We didn’t mention this back when it happened because we were on our latest Unscheduled Blog Hiatus (cough), but a while back, singer and former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson purchased a turquoise ring that once belonged to Jane Austen. However, because of the importance of the ring to British culture, the British government moved to block Miss Clarkson from taking the ring (which she apparently intended to wear as her engagement ring) out of the country.
We support this decision, for several reasons. The first is–look at it! She’s going to wear this as her engagement ring? Like, every day? It appears to our admittedly untrained eye to be in rather delicate condition for such a purpose. Secondly, it is just us, or is it a bit rude to swoop in with all your American Idol money (some of it the Editrix’s, as she purchased at least one of Miss Clarkson’s albums and actually rather likes her as a performer) and just buy up the cool toys and then hide them away? Or wear it on stage, all na-na-na, look at me and my Jane Austen ring, you poverty-stricken spinsters! (We doubt she meant it that way, but it feels that way.)
Look, Kelly, if you’re really that big of a Jane Austen fan–and we truly do not doubt that you are–do the right thing. Imitate Alberta Burke, possibly the greatest collector of Austeniana ever, who purchased the lock of Austen’s hair and then, while at a Jane Austen Society annual meeting, responded to complaints about Austen relics being taken out of the country by standing up and donating the lock to the Jane Austen Memorial Trust. It was done in pride and anger, but still–she did it. Mrs. Burke’s Austen letters went to the Morgan Library, and many of her other collectibles to Goucher College. She enjoyed them in her lifetime, and then donated them so that others might enjoy them (and many of us enjoyed those letters a couple of years ago at an exhibit at the Morgan Library). You have a lovely replica of the ring that your fiancé had made–and what a Mr. Knightleyish thing to do–that you can wear daily, secure in the knowledge that you’re not ruining an heirloom, and showing your love for Jane Austen every day.
Kelly, do the right thing: donate the ring to the Jane Austen Memorial Trust. Do it now, or later, but do it. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the Janeite thing to do.