Jane Austen ring which belonged to her family for 200 years is seen for first time

'It is neat and plain and set in gold' : Jane Austen ring which belonged to her family for 200 years is seen for first time - A never-seen-before ring owned by novelist Jane Austen has emerged, providing her fans with glimpse of her elegant style.

The gold ring with a blue rounded stone was unknown to Austen scholars until now, having been kept tightly in the family through the generations.

But next month, after 200 hundred years, her descendants will put it up for auction with an estimated price tag of £30,000.

The previously unknown ring that belonged to the famed novelist Jane Austin has emerged from the writer's descendents

This unremarkable ring, thought to made from odontolite, fits perfectly with Austen’s idea of jewellery having once written to her sister on the topic.

In a letter to her Cassandra in 1813 she wrote: “I have bought your locket ... it is neat and plain, set in gold.”

Gabriel Heaton, from auctioneers Sotheby’s, which is selling the ring, said: ‘This was totally unknown to Austen scholars and has been in the family for 200 years.

‘There are very few items of jewellery or personal items that belonged to Jane Austen.

‘And to have the opportunity to acquire something that is so intimately connected to the great writer is a rare opportunity indeed.

‘It is the kind of object that you can imagine Jane Austen wearing; it is elegant and stylish, but plain and was not terribly expensive.

'The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen' by English society artist Ozias Humphry is widely believed to be the only known painting of Jane Austen

‘It fits with what she said jewellery should be like in her work and in letters.

‘There will be many collectors and institutions who would like to own this unique ring.

‘It comes in a contemporary box and has probably been adjusted at some point.’

After the Pride and Prejudice author’s death in 1817 her jewellery passed to Cassandra, who then passed on some as mementoes to family members.

A note that accompanies the sale of the ring explains how Austen’s sister-in-law Eleanor Austen had been given it when she became engaged to the writer’s brother Henry.

She wrote: ‘My dear Caroline. The enclosed Ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your Uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you!’

This was the same year that Caroline’s brother, James-Edward Austen-Leigh, wrote ‘A Memoir of Jane Austen’ with the help of his sister.

Caroline never married and the ring passed to James-Edward’s daughter Mary and it has continued to be passed down the family until now.

It is thought that there are few items of jewellery that belonged to Austen, who died aged 41, in existence.

It comes after fresh evidence emerged last month surrounding the much-debated 'Rice Portrait', thought to be the only professional painting of Austen.


  • In July last year Bodleian library at Oxford University bought fragments of the unfinished novel The Watsons for £1million, nearly three times its estimate, at Sotheby's in London.
  • In June last year an album believed to contain one of only four surviving portraits of the author Jane Austenfailed to sell at Christie's. It had not been verified by the National Portrait Gallery, which houses a portrait painted by her sister Cassandra.
  • In June 2008 an inscribed presentation copy of a first edition of Emma by Jane Austen fetched a record £180,000 under auction at Bonhams, London, far exceeding the £70,000 estimate.
The painting, owned by the Rice family, direct descendants of one of Jane's brothers, has been the subject of discussion almost since it came to public light in the late 19th century.

But an analysis of the oil painting using digital photographic tools has revealed writing that seems to back up the case for it being a genuine likeness of the 19th century novelist.

Austen, who was born in 1775 and died in 1817, rose to fame as a novelist whose works of romantic fiction among the landed gentry led to her being one of the most widely read English authors.

Her legacy includes well-known works such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma.
The auction takes place on July 10. ( dailymail.co.uk )

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