Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Townshend Deep Blue Turquoise and Diamond Ring, 1850-60

Turquoise Ring
from the Townshend Collection
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s another ring from the 
 collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet. Again though the stone has been set into a ring, it was never meant to be worn.  The setting—which dates between 1850 and 1860--serves only to showcase the stone.

The central turquoise is of exceptional quality.  It has been surrounded by diamonds to accent the unusually deep color of the stone.  Turquoise naturally occurs in shades of pale blue through greenish blue to green—the blue color being caused by the presence of copper with green tints developing with the presence of iron.

The most valuable turquoise stones are those of the deepest color.  A deep sky blue is greatly prized.  This midnight blue, however, is truly rare and extremely valuable.  Few examples of turquoise this deep are known.

Turquoise is a porous stone and it must be handled with care.  It’s best that this incredibly rare stone was never worn.  The stone is prone discoloration by the absorption of oils from the skin or from perfume.  Compromising the superb depth of color here would have been a true crime against nature. 

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