Cinnabar is a mineral, but that is probably not what you have, Some
oriental artwork uses the term "cinnabar" for a red lacquer used in
frames, boxes, etc. From your experience, it sounds like the
lacquer. The term "Chinese red" also refers to this red color.
The mineral cinnabar is very soft, brittle, rather uncommon, and not
useful in jewelry. I do have some quartz I collected near a mercury
mining area in California in which numerous small red specks are
scattered on a blue-gray background, but that is very different from
the pieces you are dealing with.
Your experience sounds like some unfortunate miscommunication. I
wish I could help more.