Turquoise Jane Austen ring sells for £150,000 at auction
A gold and turquoise ring belonging to Jane Austen has sold for more than £150,000 at an auction in London – more than five times its estimate.
The ring, which featured a large oval turquoise gemstone, was sold alongside a handwritten letter by her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen bequeathing the rare jewel to her niece Caroline. The note, dated 1863, confirms the item belonged to the 19th-century British author.”My dear Caroline,” Eleanor wrote. “The enclosed ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you!” The rare piece is the latest in a series of the writer’s pieces to be sold at auction.Last year, a handwritten draft of an unpublished Jane Austen book was sold for just over £1 million. It was said to be the earliest surviving manuscript of the author’s work.The sale of Miss Austen’s jewellery at more than five times its estimate yesterday appeared to demonstrate that fascination with the Pride and Prejudice writer has yet to wane. After a tense battle between eight bidders, the item was eventually sold at £152,450 to an anonymous private collector over the phone.”Jane Austen’s simple and modest ring is a wonderfully intimate and evocative possession,” said Dr Gabriel Heaton, a manuscript specialist at Sotheby’s auction house.”The price achieved today and the huge level of interest it has generated, is a remarkable testament to the author’s enduring appeal and her place at the heart of our literary and cultural heritage.”Other items in the English literature, history, children’s books and illustrations sale included early editions of works by William Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte and Geoffrey Chaucer, water colours by Beatrix Potter and letters from Jonathan Swift.
”The term turquoise has been applied to two very different substances. The one, distinguished by the name of oriental turquoise, is a true stone, a clay coloured by oxide of copper, or even by arseniate of iron; and belongs as much to the argillaceous order of the oryctognostic system as chrysoprase belongs to the siliceous order. I have placed it in the system under the name of calaite, by which it had been already distinguished by Pliny. The other substance, called simply turquoise, or occidental turquoise, or turquoise odontolite, is a fossil, a petrefaction, a tooth or a bone coloured by a metallic phosphate, which does not belong to the mineral kingdom at all. Every part of the skeleton may be in this way converted into turquoise, when it happens to be placed in contact with coppery bodies, and particularly with phosphate of copper; but the fossil turquoise capable of being employed in the arts is almost always a tooth, which is harder than the other bones of the skeleton, and takes an excellent polish. I shall distinguish it by the name turquoise odontolite…”