Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1800-1869 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Lapis lazuli is a natural mixture of the minerals lazurite (which lends it the striking blue colour), calcite (sometimes enough to create small white clouds) and pyrite (creating tiny gold-coloured specks). For over 6000 years the mines of Badakhstan in Afghanistan have produced the best quality lapis lazuli. It was used to make the precious pigment ultramarine, often found in miniature painting, and once rivalled gold in value. It can be carved into beads, cabochons (stones with round tops) or small objects or used in inlays or mosaics.

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
Lapis lazuli, set in gold
Brief description
Lapis-lazuli set in a gold ring, made in Europe, 1800-1869
Physical description
Ring with a tabular oval deep blue stone, with a few minute spangles of pyrites, set in a gold mount.
Dimensions
  • Height: 0.416in
  • Width: 0.375in
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
Lapis lazuli is a natural mixture of the minerals lazurite (which lends it the striking blue colour), calcite (sometimes enough to create small white clouds) and pyrite (creating tiny gold-coloured specks). For over 6000 years the mines of Badakhstan in Afghanistan have produced the best quality lapis lazuli. It was used to make the precious pigment ultramarine, often found in miniature painting, and once rivalled gold in value. It can be carved into beads, cabochons (stones with round tops) or small objects or used in inlays or mosaics.

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, Chapman and Hall Ltd
  • Clare Phillips, Jewels and Jewellery, V&A Publications 2000.
Collection
Accession number
1324-1869

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Record createdFebruary 17, 2003
Record URL
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