- Place of origin:
- Materials and Techniques:
Sapphire set in gold
- Credit Line:
Bequeathed by the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 50, shelf B, box 31
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.
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.
Ring with a bi-colour yellow and blue sapphire set in a gold mount.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Sapphire set in gold
Height: 2.6 cm, Width: 2.2 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.
Historical context note
Reset by Townshend
Ring, bi-colour yellow and blue sapphire set in a gold mount, made in Europe, reset mid nineteenth century.
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.
The sapphire is from the HP Hope collection, but was probably reset by Townshend in the mid nineteenth century.
Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project