Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1800-1869 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Precious opal, banded, in a gold mount

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:

    1232-1869

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 50, shelf M, box 162

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 also seems to have remounted several of the rings, in whole or in part.

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.

Physical description

Opal set in gold

Place of Origin

Europe (probably, made)

Date

1800-1869 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Precious opal, banded, in a gold mount

Dimensions

Height: 2.3 cm, Width: 1.9 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Object history note

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.

Descriptive line

Ring, precious opal set in gold, mount dates from 1800-1869, Europe

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Sir A H Church, Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection, 1883
Clare Phillips, Jewels and Jewellery, V&A Publications 2000.

Production Note

Attribution fields for date and place refer to the mount only.

Materials

Gold; Opal

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.