Deborah Yaffe

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Piece by piece

By Deborah Yaffe, Jul 11 2016 01:00PM

Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of a Janeite teapot tempest – the purchase at auction, by American singer Kelly Clarkson, of a turquoise ring that once belonged to Jane Austen.


As you will recall, Clarkson paid £152,000 -- pre-Brexit, the equivalent of about $236,000 -- for the rare Austen relic, only to be legally barred from taking a national treasure out of Great Britain. A year later, Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton raised enough money to buy the ring back from her, and it’s now on permanent display. Clarkson had to make do with a replica, a gift from her fiance, which she wore when she sang at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration.


For a mere fraction of what Clarkson paid, it’s possible for any Janeite to fairly drip with Austen-ish turquoise jewelry: Through the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England, you can now buy a replica of the ring, plus matching pendant and earrings, for $332. (What, no bracelet? No nose ring?)


Jane Austen and I share the same December birth month, and thus the same turquoise birthstone, so you’d think I would be lining up for these items. But – shh! Don’t tell! – I think the ring is kind of ugly. I’ve never much liked turquoise. Sorry, Kelly. And Jane.


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