Jane Austen’s Ring

Object name: Jane Austen’s ring

Object number: CHWJA:JAH356

Category: Object

Physical description: The ring is a plain 9 carat gold band; the ends of the band curve round under the gold bezel which holds a bright blue oval turquoise stone. It came in a ring box marked with the name T West, a goldsmith in London, but the box is not original. Also accompanying the ring were letters of provenance detailing the history of the ring and naming it as originally belonging to Jane Austen. The ring has a width of 17.5mm and a height of 8mm; this is a small ring.

Date: Estimated 1760 -1780

Context: It is not known how or when Jane acquired this ring, whether it was a present, an inheritance or a purchase that she made. It is interesting that the stone is turquoise which is the birthstone for December, the month in which Jane was born. The letters of provenance give the history of the ring, with the most important being one from Eleanor Jackson Austen (Henry Austen’s second wife) dated November 1863 in which she writes to her niece “My dear Caroline, the enclosed ring once belonged to your aunt Jane It was given to me by your aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew I was engaged to your uncle. I bequeath it to you”. The other provenance letters chart the successive inheritances of the ring within the family.

The ring was auctioned in 2012 and was bought by an American pop singer, Kelly Clarkson. However a temporary export ban was placed on the ring and an attempt was made to raise the funds to buy the ring for the Museum. The money was raised rapidly, thanks to donations, large and small, from around the world and the ring was purchased from Kelly Clarkson by Jane Austen’s House in 2013 for the original sale price (£152,450). Kelly Clarkson had a replica of the ring made which she still wears. The ring went on display at the Museum on 14 February 2014 and is displayed alongside her two other known pieces of jewellery.

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