Your St. Helens souvenirs may be worth a pretty penny

Your St. Helens souvenirs may be worth a pretty penny »Play Video
Within days of the Mount St. Helens eruption 30 years ago, people started collecting souvenirs.

The eruption was such a monumental event, practically everyone wanted a souvenir. Depending what you picked up, you may have more of an investment than you realize, if you can still find it.

Look online, and you'll find people are buying and selling just about everything from Mount St. Helens including Mount Saint Helens ash. The ash, however is not a big seller. Prices are dirt-cheap, because practically everyone in the Northwest already has some. If you drive near the mountain you can still get it for free.

But people are willing to pay for certain art glass and jewelry products that are made from the ash.

The Emerald Fox Gallery in Seattle's Westin Hotel is the original creator of Emerald Obsidianite jewelry. The stone come in varying shades of green, deep blue and rose.

Retail manager Wendy Fournier says the different colors are produced by the different mineral content of the ash. And certain colors are very desirable.

"There is a color of teal green that came out in the early 80s. It's very rare now," Fournier said.

But color aside, older St. Helens gemstones set in gold, are guaranteed to be worth much more than the original price because of the increased price of gold.

Fournier told me the ring and earring set I purchased for about $250 in the late 80s is currently selling for more than $700.

A glass Mount St. Helens egg I received as a gift in 1984 has also increased in value. The egg was created by Glass Eye Studio, which started out in a small space at the Pike Place Market.

Thanks to all that ash from the mountain- and the booming demand for the company's collectible ornaments, paperweights and other items, Glass Eye now has a huge facility in Fremont and has become one of the largest handmade glass and ornament studios in the country.

President Dale Leman points out the items are not made purely of ash from Mount St. Helens, but every item produced, contains some ash from the volcano.

Leman recognized my egg right away as one of the early designs which has been discontinued.As a result, the value has gone up.

"So I think your egg is probably worth about $50or so, and I think it probably sold for about $10 or $15 back in 1984," said Leman.

New Glass Eye eggs are currently priced at around $30.

The true value of any collectible, of course, depends on condition, rarity, desirability and what buyers are willing to pay.

Prints from the famous eruption shot by Seattle P-I photographer Grant Haller are offered online for between $30 and $70. More depending on the buyer and the type of print.

If you have a limited edition Jim Beam commemorative decanter, collectors have recently paid as high as $60. At the same time, I found one in eBay that just told for less than $8 -- about $5 less than the shipping cost.