Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Carnelian (kahr-NEEL-yan) is a handsome red-orange gemstone that you definitely don't see in everyday jewelry. This mineral, or crypto-crystalline quartz, turned semi-precious gemstone has been used since the Bronze Age as decoration, and is still used for decoration and jewelry today. Cameos carved in ivory on top of carnelian have always been popular, as well as carving into the carnelian, as you can see on this antique Algiers seal ring below, from Eragem. One of the stone's first purposes was for these seal rings, used to print the carved image into wax to seal and identify letters.

antique-carnelian algiers seal ring

Carnelian has never been popular as a name, but it has a very masculine, strong, mystical feel to it. Neil could be an easy nickname for boys. It has been used at least twice for male characters, once in Dancers at the End of Time series by Michael Moorcock, and once in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy by Ricardo Pinto. It was also a U.S. war ship during World War II, and can be used as a color name for the specific reddish-brown that is carnelian stones. According to the Bible, carnelian was worn on the Breastplate of Aaron, and is the stone of Virgo. The Babylonians and Greeks wore carnelian as a sign of good luck and to give them strength both mentally and physically.

The name comes from cornelian, from the Medieval Latin word corneolus for the cornel cherry (carnelian cherry) and it's red, fleshy color, and was modified to "carnelian" in the 16th century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, carnelian's similarity to the word carnis, meaning "flesh," is a perversion of the original form of the word. Carnelian's meaning is "flesh colored."

The girl's names Carnella and Carnelia could be a variant of Cornelia, meaning "horn," or it could be the female variant of Carnelian, happening the same way "carnelian" came from "cornelian," by replacing the "o" with and "a." Either way, they are related. Nell and Nelly could be good nicknames.

Carnelian, Carnella and Carnelia have not been used as baby names, that I can find. There were none in 2011, and none have ever ranked. There were, however, 11 boys named Crimson and 15 named Cornelio in 2011, which is a sign of good hope for Carnelian.


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