A GOLD ring owned by author Jane Austen will go on display for the first time next month after it was saved from being sold to a US pop star.
A campaign was launched to keep the turquoise and gold ring in the UK, after it was bought by American singer Kelly Clarkson at auction for around £150,000.
Last year, culture minister Ed Vaizey placed an export ban on the jewellery, preventing the American Idol winner from taking it out of the UK.
The Jane Austen’s House Museum then raised enough funds through the Bring the Ring Home appeal to save the ring, with particular help from an anonymous donor who pledged £100,000.
Now, the ring is set to go on display in Jane Austen’s Hampshire home, in Chawton, bringing a touch of true romance when it is unveiled for the first time on Valentine’s Day.
Mary Guyatt, curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum, said: “Visitors come from all around the world to see the house where she once lived and we will now take great pleasure in displaying this pretty ring for their appreciation.
“The Government’s decision to decline an export licence preventing Kelly Clarkson from taking the ring from the UK reflects how rarely Austen’s personal effects turn up in today’s art market, and having missed out at auction in 2012, we are thrilled to have had this second chance to bring it home to Chawton.”
Mr Vaizey said he was delighted the appeal was a success, adding: “It’s clear from the number of people who gave generously to the campaign just how admired Jane Austen remains to this day.”
Visitors to the museum can also see the letter written by Jane Austen’s sister-in-law, Eleanor Austen, confirming its original ownership and bequeathing the ring to her own niece Caroline, in 1863.
It was kept in the Austen family for 200 years, and is one of just three pieces of jewellery known to have been owned by Austen in her lifetime.
It contains her December birthstone, turquoise, and is said to symbolise wisdom and spiritual journeys.
It is not known if the ring was a gift from someone, or if it was bought by Austen herself using some of the proceeds from her book sales.
This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s novel Mansfield Park which is being celebrated by the museum.
Austen, whose face will appear on £10 notes from 2017, was born in Steventon, where her father was rector, before settling at Chawton, near Alton.