Jane Austen’s ring

Text by Imogen Poole, Former Retail Supervisor at Jane Austen's House

The ring has a vibrant blue stone with no obvious blemishes or veins in it, and is set in a small gold band. It is not known whether the stone is definitely turquoise, and it has been suggested that it could be Odontalite, a substitute for turquoise. The design of this ring is quite plain and humble and its size gives us a hint of how dainty Jane’s hands would have been. The ring is thought to have been created between 1750 and 1800.

It is not known who gave Jane the ring and this raises many questions. Was it from a brother as a present? Was it from a secret admirer? Or did she simply buy it for herself, a worthy treat for all her success and hard work? And if so, did she design it?

The ring was kept by Jane’s sister, Cassandra Austen, before it was passed down through the Austen family and was put up for auction in 2012 by Sotheby’s. The ring was famously purchased by Kelly Clarkson, the American singer, for just over £150,000. It was, however, given an export ban which stopped it from leaving the country. After generous donations from both public and private funders, Jane Austen’s House was able to purchase the ring in 2013 along with the pretty box it came in and the letters of authenticity.

It is apparent that Jane Austen was not a materialistic person and although the ring is simplistic in its design, it beautifully reflects an idea of who Jane was. The ring is a treasure, a wonderful piece of history, and a delightful artefact which once belonged to a woman who became one of England’s greatest novelists.