The traditional birthstone for July is ruby and yes, you can get lower grade ruby at a more affordable price, but its still a precious gem. The modern alternative is carnelian (often spelt cornelian), a gem that is often over looked in shop bought jewellery, which is a shame as its has a lovely translucent quality. It is a form of chalcedony that varies from crystal to yellow through to fiery oranges and reddish brown, the colour coming from the presence of iron oxides.
Carnelian is an ancient stone. An amazing haul of gold jewellery with carnelian and lapis lazuli beads dated from 2500 BC was found at the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur (modern day Iraq), at the tomb of Queen Pu-abi. She was found covered in an elaborate beaded cape and wore an even more elaborate headdress, that quite frankly looks like something out of Star Wars. She was buried with 52 attendants and a oxen and cart. It is thought that some of the attendants may have been poisoned and may not even have been dead when buried, but merely unconscious. Others were subjected to serious head trauma. Blimey.
Other facts about carnelian include-
*Hot wax doesn’t stick to carnelian, so it has often been used in signet rings http://www.trauma-pages.com/ford98.htm and seals especially by the Minoans and Romans.
*It was believed that carnelian brought luck by the ancient Babylonians and Greeks
*The Ancient Egyptians belived it aided the journey into the afterlife
*And Napoleon wore carnelian as a symbol of victory and courage.
Do you use carnelian in your jewellery or have a favourite piece that uses it? Let me know!