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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Orange sapphire set in gold with brilliant-cut diamonds

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:

    1310-1869

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 50, shelf B, box 34

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.

Physical description

Ring with an orange sapphire within a border of brilliant-cut diamonds, in a gold setting.

Place of Origin

Europe (made)

Date

ca. 1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Orange sapphire set in gold with brilliant-cut diamonds

Dimensions

Height: 2.7 cm, Width: 2.4 cm, Depth: 2.5 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, orange sapphire with a border of brilliant-cut diamonds, in a gold setting of about 1850, made in 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.

Materials

Gold; Sapphire; Diamond

Techniques

Lapidary

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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