A Migration period gold mounted amethyst ball pendant necklace
Lot 115
A Migration period gold mounted amethyst ball pendant necklace
Sold for £4,800 (US$ 8,067) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Migration period gold mounted amethyst ball pendant necklace
Circa 5th-7th Centuries A.D.
The spherical quartz ball, carved with a flattened summit and a recessed horizontal band around the middle, with four cross-over vertical recessed bands around the body, for fitting into the sheet gold strap mount, the straps joined at the base with a hollow dome and hooked into twisted wire loops attached to a hollow dome above, with a modern gold suspension loop above, the ancient thick interlocking gold chain with sheet gold terminals embellished with bands of granulation with a heavy hook and eye clasp, amethyst ball 21mm diam, chain 19in (48.2cm) long, some modern elements and repair


  • Provenance:
    Acquired before 1985.

    Examples of these quartz balls and others of rock-crystal are well known from Anglo-Saxon and Merovingian contexts. An example found at Chessel Down (Isle of Wight) in rock crystal is in the British Museum, cf. T.D. Kendrick, Anglo-Saxon Art to A.D. 900, (London 1938), p. 89, pl. XXX. One of amethyst quartz has been found at Szilágysomlyó, Hungary, cf. Exhibition catalogue, Barbarenschmuck und Römergold Kunsthistorisches Museum, (Vienna 1999). An unmounted rock-crystal sphere from the tomb of the Merovingian King Childeric I (d.482) found at Tournai in 1654 is now in the Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris and gives an exact date for this class of spheres, cf. J.J. Chifflet, Anastasis Childerici I Francorum Regis, (Antwerp 1655) p. 243. It appears that rock crystal was found in the Alps and was assumed to be ice frozen so hard it would never thaw, presumable giving these amulets a magical and eternal power. The word amethyst comes from the classical Greek for sober, implying that these talismans might be a symbol of propriety or wisdom. The distinctive colour of amethyst is imparted to the quartz by traces of iron in colloidal form.