Jane Austen ring set to stay in UK after donation

Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:35am EDT
 
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - A rare turquoise and gold ring once owned by 19th century novelist Jane Austen looks set to remain in the UK after a British museum received a donation of 100,000 pounds ($154,800) to help stop its celebrity owner taking it to the United States.

The Jane Austen's House Museum can now make a "serious expression" of intention to buy the piece, after being outbid at auction by U.S. pop singer Kelly Clarkson last year.

Clarkson, said to be a "huge fan" of Austen, was prevented from taking the ring out of the country after the British government placed a temporary export bar on it.

The donation ensured the museum was well placed to make an offer on the ring - one of only three known pieces of jewelery owned by Austen - which was bought by Clarkson for more than 150,000 pounds.

"We always did want to acquire the ring for the museum but last year we felt like we couldn't raise enough money in time to go to the auction," Louise West, a fundraiser at the Jane Austen Museum told Reuters.

The museum has now raised 103,200 of the 152,450 pounds needed to keep the ring in the UK after launching a "grass roots" campaign and has until December to raise the remaining 49,000 pounds.

"If we are successful, it will go to the museum and will be put on display. You will be able to come and see it alongside the other jewelery owned by Jane Austen. So in a way it will be coming home," West added.

Austen, author of such classics as "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility and "Emma", also owned a turquoise bracelet and topaz cross, which are on display at Austen's former home in Hampshire, southern England.   Continued...