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. 1840 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Spinels are bright and lustrous gems which occur in a broad range of colours. Once known as 'balas rubies', 'spinel rubies' and then 'ruby spinels', red spinels have been closely linked with rubies throughout history. Though similar in appearance, they are composed of magnesium aluminium oxide rather than aluminium oxide and thus have a different crystal structure to rubies.
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
Red spinel set in gold with brilliant-cut diamonds
Brief Description
Ring, red spinel with a border of brilliant-cut diamonds, in a gold setting of around 1840, made in Western Europe.
Physical Description
Ring with a red spinel, the border of brilliant-cut diamonds, in a gold setting.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 2.4cm
  • Depth: 1.9cm
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
Spinels are bright and lustrous gems which occur in a broad range of colours. Once known as 'balas rubies', 'spinel rubies' and then 'ruby spinels', red spinels have been closely linked with rubies throughout history. Though similar in appearance, they are composed of magnesium aluminium oxide rather than aluminium oxide and thus have a different crystal structure to rubies.

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
1326-1869

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record createdApril 4, 2006
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