Autumn (6)Whenever we’re walking in the hills, we tend to make very slow progress because we’re always stopping to admire the views, the plants, the wildlife – or, in my case, the rocks.   Pretty much anything is of interest, although this one was a show-stopper.   It was photographed on a steep hillside near Braemar.

I believe it is carnelian, which is formed when quartz has been infused with iron oxide, flushing the white crystal with yellow, orange and red.

Walters Art Museum
Walters Art Museum


The ancient Egyptians likened carnelian to the setting sun, and seal rings inset with carnelian intaglios were worn by the Pharaohs.  This Egyptian ring is decorated with a tiny frog and dates from 1550-1292 BC.

Carnelian is beautiful when polished, and it was especially popular in the 19th century, when Queen Victoria started a fashion for ‘Scottish pebble’ jewellery.  Silver brooches were set with agate, amethyst, smoky quartz (sometimes known as Cairngorm), onyx and carnelian.


The word ‘carnelian’ comes from the Latin ‘carnem’ meaning ‘flesh’.   It is one of the birthstones for July and for the star sign of Virgo.

Wearing carnelian can help to increase confidence, and to promote creativity and happiness.  Carnelian pebbles placed near your front door are said to attract prosperity and abundance into your home.

Unluckily for me, this particular specimen was way too big to bring home, so it is still quietly attracting abundance somewhere on a windswept mountainside…

Mountains - BraemarPhotos copyright © Jo Woolf


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