Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: The Townshend "Fire Marble" Lumachella Ring, c. 1850

Lumachella Ring
The Townshend Collection at
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Oh, Reverend Townshend…when did you find time to preach? That’s right. You didn’t.

At this point, regular readers have learned more from me about the Reverend Chauncey (or Chauncy, depending on the day) Hare Townshend than they ever wanted to know. He’s even popped up in Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square. So, I’ll spare you more details about his life of privilege and collecting and palling around with Dickens. If you want to learn more, click on the "Townshend Collection" tag below to see other posts about him.

Here’s another ring from Townshend’s collection. This one’s not quite as shimmery as the others, but it’s equally as rare. The stone here is lumachella—a marble that contains the fossilized remains of snail shells. Another name for this gem is “fire marble” since the shells provide an iridescent play of red and green. Most gem quality lumachella comes from Corinth, Greece. This one is set in a coronet mount—meant only for display, probably around 1850.

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