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Wax carved carnelian seal on an envelope

Carnelian, sometimes spelled cornelian (other variants of the name include Sadoine, Mecca stone, and Pigeon's Blood Agate), is a red or reddish-brown variant of chalcedony. It is opaque or translucent to transparent light orange to deep brownish rust red, often found with some white color. The brownish red variety is also known as sard. Hence the name sardonyx is applied to color banded dark carnelian.

The word carnelian is derived from the Latin word meaning horn, in reference to the flesh color sometimes exhibited. Carnelian is said to be a motivation stone and some have called it the "self-esteem stone". Certainly, gemstone beads of carnelian would give the wearer better self-esteem just by their beauty alone. Carnelian has the interesting property that hot wax does not stick to it, that is why it was used widely during Roman times 2,000 years before the present era to make signet or seal rings for imprinting a security seal with wax on correspondence or other important documents.

The mineral is found worldwide, but India is reputed for developing the best gemstones. Other significant sources include Brazil and Uruguay. In jewelry making it is most often cut into either beads or cabochons, but occasionally it is carved. The carnelian beads are made by heating and shaping agate several times, resulting in a change of color. The resultant beads are drilled with a stone drill. Some beads are over 12 centimeters in length. Today, the entire process is the work of professional craftsmen whose technology has been handed down from generation to generation. On the picture - wax carved carnelian seal on an envelope.

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