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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1869 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cabochon star sapphire set in gold

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:

    1243-1869

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 50, shelf B, box 20

Sapphires and rubies are varieties of the mineral corundum, the hardest gem mineral after diamond. Small quantities of chromium in corundum cause rubies to be red. Sapphire is the name given to any other gem corundum. Varying amounts and combinations of iron, titanium and chromium cause the range of colours of sapphires, from blues to yellows, pink-oranges and greens. The name of this type of sapphire comes from the star effect caused by the reflection of light within the crystal.
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 a pale grey blue star sapphire cut as an oval cabochon and set in a gold mount.

Place of Origin

Europe (made)

Date

1800-1869 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Cabochon star sapphire set in gold

Dimensions

Height: 0.5 in, Width: 0.375 in

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, pale grey blue star sapphire cut as an oval cabochon and set in a gold mount, made in Europe, 1800-1869.

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

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

Materials

Sapphire; Gold

Techniques

Lapidary

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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