Kelly Clarkson is getting married soon, and she would already have her “something old” and “something blue” squared away, were it not for a snafu in Britain’s auction rules. Back in 2012, the American Idol winner fell in love with a blue ring that formerly belonged to beloved writer Jane Austen. It was up for sale at auction, and the singer eventually purchased the ring for £152,450. Despite owning the ring, the “Stronger” singer can’t export it to the U.S., thanks to Culture minister Ed Vaizey, who is claiming the ring is a “national treasure.”
The auctioneer was clearly initially fine with Clarkson’s purchase of the ring, but Vaizey then put a temporary bar on the ring after the celebrity bought it, stating that he hoped a British citizen or institution would have purchased the ring. Britain has put bars on special items purchased by buyers in the past, and those bars give people within the country the option to match the offer that Clarkson put down for the ring in order to keep it in its country of origin.
Vaizey’s argument is basically that Jane Austen possessions are rare and should remain in the country of origin because they are so few in number.
"Jane Austen's modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare, so I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation.”
According to CNN, the ring was passed down through several generations of the Austen family until Clarkson snapped it up at auction. Now, the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, England has said that the institution would love to acquire the ring if it could find the funds.
Honestly, when I think of items that are national treasures, I think of the copy of the United States Constitution on display in Washington D.C. or the Crown Jewels on display as part of the Royal Collection in the Tower of London. I could even see Vaizey’s point if Clarkson had purchased a copy of a draft of one of Austen’s novels, which would certainly be a little more historically relevant and directly related to her craft. However, a ring worn by a famous author that doesn’t have relevance to that writer’s work or even as a particularly significant jewelry piece is an argument that is a whole lot more convoluted. If the singer bought the item fair and square, I don’t see how the country has any say in it, even if the Austen museum would really like it.
This isn’t the first time Britain has put a temporary bar on an item that has been slated to be exported after auction. Recently, a racecar owned by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin known as the “Bentley Blower” was also put on the list in the hopes that a British citizen would be able to match the exorbitant £5,149,800 cost. Additionally, some paintings by Thomas Baines, who famously went on an Australian expedition earlier in Britain’s history, are currently on the “temporary bar” list.