Describing novelist Jane Austen’s turquoise ring as a “national treasure” that must be “saved for the nation,” British authorities are blocking singer Kelly Clarkson’s attempt to take her $231,227 auction prize out of the country.
The same authorities are appealing for a UK buyer to come forward with a matching offer while a temporary export ban is in place. British buyers have to make a play for the near-200-year-old ring before the ban is lifted on October 1.
“Jane Austen’s modest lifestyle and her early death (at age 41) mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare, so I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation,” UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said in a statement.
The 2002 “American Idol” winner and pop sensation purchased the rare turquoise and gold ring in July 2012 at a Sotheby’s auction in London. It is one of only three pieces of jewelry in existence that can be connected to the famous 19th century author of such critically acclaimed novels as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma.
The provenance of the ring is well documented. Austen, who lived from 1775 until 1817, gave it to her sister, Cassandra, who then gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen when she became engaged to Henry Thomas Austen. The ring has remained in the Austen family ever since, according to the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
“Jane Austen placed great significance on jewelry’s link to personal relationships both in her life and in her novels,” the Department of Culture said in a statement.
ABC News reported that Clarkson’s fiancé, Brandon Blackstock, had a replica of the Austen ring made for the singer while she waits for the outcome of this intercontinental drama.
Clarkson agreed to sell the ring if a British buyer comes forward. But, even if she relinquishes the ring, she still possesses an important piece of Austen memorabilia — a first-edition copy of Persuasion that she purchased at the same Sotheby’s auction last July.