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Cinnabar is thought to come from the Persian word "zinjifrah" meaning dragon's blood, most likely referring to the gemstone's red shade.
Cinnabar found in nature is a red mineral containing mercury. Early alchemists learned how to extract the mercury from cinnabar. Many were searching for ways to transform cinnabar into gold, while others were trying to find the secret to immortalization. Cinnabar was also used in ancient Mayan burial chambers and in Chinese carved lacquerware dating back to the Song Dynasty.
Today, we know that mercury is toxic and shouldn't be worn next to the skin, so the cinnabar used in jewelry is actually wood that is stained and covered by layers of lacquer. While the final layer is still soft, it is pressed with an image or hand-carved.
Cinnabar is often shaped into beads and carved with ornamental designs. The beads can be used alone to create stunning necklaces and bracelets or can be mingled with onyx and other gemstones to create a dramatic play of color. Cinnabar jewelry looks beautiful accented with sterling silver or gold.
Cinnabar's glossy lacquered finish makes a standout in any piece of jewelry. Shop the Ross-Simons web site to discover a beautiful array of cinnabar necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Care for your cinnabar jewelry as you would any other fine gemstone jewelry. Wash gently with warm soapy water and dry with a soft cloth. Store your cinnabar jewelry in your Ross-Simons presentation box when not in use.