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

ca. 1830 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rubies and sapphires are varieties of corundum (aluminium oxide). In its purest form corundum is colourless. However, during formation local impurities create a range of different colours. Rubies are coloured by chromium and are always red. Sapphire is coloured blue by iron and titanium, though other colours result from different combinations and proportions of impurities. When this occurs, the name sapphire should be prefixed with the colour.

When ‘star’ rubies or sapphires are viewed under directional lighting, a six-pointed ‘star’ can be seen to glide over their surface. These gems are filled with many fine, needle-like inclusions, aligned in three directions. Light is reflected from the inclusions to create three intersecting bright rays, an effect known as asterism.

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Star sapphire set in gold with rose-cut diamonds
Brief Description
Ring, star sapphire with a border of rose-cut diamonds in a gold setting of about 1830, made in Europe
Physical Description
Star sapphire with a border of rose-cut diamonds in a gold ring.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.9cm
  • Width: 2.7cm
  • Depth: 2.4cm
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.
Production
Setting made ca. 1830.
Summary
Rubies and sapphires are varieties of corundum (aluminium oxide). In its purest form corundum is colourless. However, during formation local impurities create a range of different colours. Rubies are coloured by chromium and are always red. Sapphire is coloured blue by iron and titanium, though other colours result from different combinations and proportions of impurities. When this occurs, the name sapphire should be prefixed with the colour.



When ‘star’ rubies or sapphires are viewed under directional lighting, a six-pointed ‘star’ can be seen to glide over their surface. These gems are filled with many fine, needle-like inclusions, aligned in three directions. Light is reflected from the inclusions to create three intersecting bright rays, an effect known as asterism.



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.
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
1244-1869

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record createdApril 3, 2006
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