Along with her turquoise ring, the topaz cross must be the most iconic jewellery item associated with Jane, and it's of especial relevance to us here at the Jane Austen Centre, because she was living in Bath at the time she received it.
In a lovely letter to Cassandra, written 26th and 27th May, 1801, Jane tells her sister that she had been "to the very top of Kingsdown and had a very pleasant drive," before adding that "One pleasure succeeds another rapidly."
On returning from her day out, she found two letters waiting for her, one from Cassandra and one from her brother Charles, who was serving with great distinction in the Royal Navy. Charles Austen had received a reward for his role in capturing an enemy privateer, and Jane's response to Cassandra was appropriately wry:
He has received £30 for his share of the privateer and expects £10 more - but of what avail is it to take prizes if he lays out the produce in presents to his Sisters. He has been buying Gold chains and Topaze Crosses for us; - he must be well scolded.
Charles duly sent both Cassandra and Jane topaz crosses: the originals are shown below, and Jane's is the one on the left:
As Jane's letter makes clear, they were to be worn on a gold chain. That the crosses, and her brother's gift of them, were important to Jane is suggested by the fact that she incorporated the episode into her novel Mansfield Park (1811-13), when Fanny's brother William, a naval midshipman, gives her "a very pretty amber cross" which he "had brought her from Sicily." Our cross is a beautiful scaled-down replica (the original would look too large and dominant with a contemporary outfit), made to the highest standard from gold-plated silver and citrine.
Now available - Buy the Jane Austen Topaz Cross