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Carnelian – An alternative birthstone for July

Orange-red carnelian showing a fine stripe of pale yellowJuly is well served by birthstones.  As well as the ruby, the most well-known birthstone for July, there is Carnelian.  This is a semi-precious gemstone that comes in an array of dazzling orange reds, sometimes striped with white.  Very pretty!

Carnelian is not a stone that can be sharply faceted, like a diamond or a ruby, as its crystalline structure is very fine – it is in fact a micro-crystalline form of quartz, with the white translucent stone given colour by iron impurities within it.  This often results in bands of colour across a pale stone, but fully red stones do occur and make fabulous pieces when polished or carved.

Antique carnelian intaglio ring

Vintage style carnelian

This is a very hard gemstone, meaning that it can be quite finely carved – making it a popular choice for signet rings with crests and similar adornments right back to Roman times.   The carved design, if a crest, would often be done as a mirror image, to allow the ring to be used as an impression on a wax seal, on legal documents and letters, to prove the sender’s identity. These were particularly popular in the late 18th and early 19th century, a reflection of the resurgence of the neo-classical design style in architecture, interiors and jewellery; you can find examples of these elegant rings today, at specialist antique jewellers around the world.   It was well known and loved in Ancient Egypt too, with its warm red tones often set against blue lapis and black onyx in collars and necklaces for royalty and the aristocracy.

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Carnelian “The Singer’s Stone”

In the Middle Ages carnelian was believed to have healing properties and even today it is known as the Singer’s Stone, due to its associations with confidence and the power of true expression, so enhancing creativity and passion.  In fact, the multi-award winning singer Adele, who has cited her belief in the power of crystals, wears a rather beautiful carnelian bracelet, made by couture fine jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels.

This warm and pretty stone clearly translates into quite stunning jewellery, carved or polished to a warm glow and sets beautifully into yellow or white gold and silver.  Used by fine jewellers and fashion jewellers alike, the only limit is the designer’s imagination, which we know will never be an issue for Christopher Evans – fine, fine jeweller!

To date we have never actually been asked to create something using carnelian, which is a shame, but perhaps by drawing your attention to this pretty, perfectly priced to deliver serious pow for your pound, glowing red gemstone.

Bespoke carnelian jewellery

Just think…drop earrings in amber-orange polished carnelian in a surround of diamonds; delicately striped carnelian set in a rose gold tennis bracelet; a tangerine square of glowing carnelian in a yellow gold brushed over setting, with orange sapphires to each side…oh, you could get quite carried away you lucky, lucky July-born babies!

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