Ring thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1850-1869 (altered)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This ring forms part of a collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet. Sir A. H. Church gave additional specimens in 1913. He also compiled the first catalogue Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection. The first edition appeared in 1883. The stones are mounted as rings, although they may not have been intended to be worn.
Opal is created when water containing microscopically small spheres of silica settles in cavities and veins in the Earth. Opals occur in a great variety of body colours. Those with an iridescent play of colour are known as ‘precious’, those without are termed ‘common’. Opals contain up to 10% water. This makes them particularly vulnerable to damage from dehydration and from immersion in some cleaning products.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Precious white opal with border of enamelled gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds
Brief Description
Ring, precious white opal with a border of brilliant-cut diamonds in an enamelled gold setting, made in Europe, the setting altered ca.1850-69
Physical Description
Precious white opal ring with a border of brilliant-cut diamonds in an enamelled gold setting.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 2.3cm
Credit line
Bequeathed by the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend
Object history
The Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend bequeathed his important collection of 154 gems to the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) in 1869. Although the collection is not as comprehensive as that found at the Natural History Museum, it is of particular historic interest as its formation pre-dates the development of many synthetic gemstones and artificial enhancements. All the stones were mounted as rings before they came to the Museum, mainly in a series of standardised gold settings, often of the coronet or galleried type. However, several specimens are set with greater elaboration, with diamond borders surrounding the central stone. Some of these were originally in the possession of Henry Philip Hope (d.1839), a brother of the novelist and antiquary Thomas Hope (c. 1770-1831). H.P. Hope formed a famous collection of diamonds and precious stones which was largely inherited by his three nephews. His collection, which included the Hope blue diamond, now in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, was catalogued by B. Hertz in 1839.

Townshend is recorded as having made purchases from it and his acquisitions are noted below. He also seems to have remounted several of his purchases, in whole or in part.
Summary
This ring forms part of a collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet. Sir A. H. Church gave additional specimens in 1913. He also compiled the first catalogue Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection. The first edition appeared in 1883. The stones are mounted as rings, although they may not have been intended to be worn.

Opal is created when water containing microscopically small spheres of silica settles in cavities and veins in the Earth. Opals occur in a great variety of body colours. Those with an iridescent play of colour are known as ‘precious’, those without are termed ‘common’. Opals contain up to 10% water. This makes them particularly vulnerable to damage from dehydration and from immersion in some cleaning products.
Bibliographic References
  • Sir A H Church, Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection, 1883
  • Clare Phillips, Jewels and Jewellery, V&A Publications 2000.
Collection
Accession Number
1222-1869

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record createdApril 3, 2006
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