"She went after dinner to shew her ring..." Pride and PrejudiceThe Telegraph reported on a gold and turquoise ring belonging to Jane Austen which sold for more than £150,000 at an auction in London – more than five times its estimate. This image was featured in the Telegraph report and shows off the beautiful turquoise gemstone adorning Jane Austen's personal possession. Turquoise as a gemstone was actually rather popular during the Regency era. The easy trade routes from Egypt and Africa more generally in the early nineteenth century ensured that this bright blue stone remained an affordable luxury and easily available. According to Amy Willis, "The ring, which featured a large oval turquoise gemstone, was sold alongside a handwritten letter by her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen (Henry Austen's second wife) 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!"
"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. It is interesting to consider how the original appraisers assumed the turquoise gemstone to be odontolite, a much less expensive stone that was often used to imitate the luxury item. Sotheby's first description stated that the ring reflected both Jane Austen's "taste in jewelry" and "modest income". A second examination revised that the stone was indeed genuine turquoise and not odontolite, raising speculation as to whom it came from and whether it could have been an engagement ring. No one seems to know how the turquoise ring came into Jane's possession but it has certainly been in the Austen family until its purchase by an anonymous bidder at auction in London. In any event, the ring is a beautiful piece and adds a bit more to our knowledge of Jane. It potentially even raises more questions, revealing how much we just don't know about her private life. Visit our Online Gift Shop to purchase your own Jane Austen inspired jewellery.