Appraisal of an Amethyst Dish

The amethyst was once a symbol of royalty

Thank you for sending me an image of your rock. I must tell you that it makes me happy that you have sent this in. The first things that I collected were rocks — and the collection continues to grow to this day. Recently a new exhibiting dealer in our shop brought in a collection of vintage homemade signs advertising “Sylvia’s Rock Garden,” complete with descriptions labeling metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rock species. The signs were fabulous with rudimentary hand-lettering painted on slate with wooden stakes.

As this is not a lesson in geology, I recommend picking up an old text book or doing an online search to re-familiarize yourself with the different species of rocks. Your rock is an amethyst, and it has been polished and carved out to make it into a dish or, most likely, an ashtray, as was popular in the mid 20th century. The amethyst is a purple-colored quartz mineral that has been celebrated throughout history for its beauty. It is the February birthstone and was a symbol of royalty in the Middle Ages. In Greek mythology, amethysts purportedly offered protection against intoxication.

I started collecting rocks when I was around 5 years old. My first archaeology experience was finding rocks in my parents' gravel culverts around our house. These archaeological hunts soon expanded to mines and rock and mineral stores throughout my early travels. I categorized the rocks that I had collected; while they were never very valuable, they always meant a lot to me. Stone has been used for hundreds of years in jewelry, vessels and sculpture. There are many ancient examples of amethysts being made into amulets and vessels. However, the more contemporary versions do not have that much value as amethysts have been plentifully sourced and mined, primarily in Brazil.

Your amethyst dish unfortunately does not have the value that it deserves, but it is a nice specimen.

I would estimate it at $45.


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