It was the latter part of last year that our appraisal firm, The Albrecht Appraisal Firm was asked by The Jane Austen House Museum to appraise a piece of her jewelry. It was a turquoise and gold ring that Jane had worn throughout her life. This particular ring is only one of three pieces left that are known to have belonged to the author.
Oddly, Kelly Clarkson, the singer, had purchased the ring and now Jane Austen’s museum wanted it back. They said it was too much a part of England’s history to be privately owned. I have to agree.
Otto, the owner of our firm and my grandfather’s former partner stopped me in the hallway and told me that we would be performing the appraisal. Though I’m only a lowly researcher, he asked if I would like to assist on the appraisal.
“I’d be delighted.”
Would I get to touch it? I could only hope.
Because you see I was born with a gift. Not the gift where I see ghosts. I don’t really consider that ability a gift. But rather the gift of psychometry. The psychic gift of touch. I can give any item the slightest touch, tune in and it’s history comes pouring forth. I can’t often control this gift, so it makes for interesting encounters. And I have to be careful when I touch others’ personal items such as pens, wallets, watches and purses, because I’ll often end up tuning in to the item’s history – and their owners’ stories.
So, I usually keep a general ‘hand-off’ policy with bank pens and other items that have been touched by thousands of people. Trust me. You don’t want to know all too much about most people.
But working in a high-profile appraisal firm I sometimes come across a few objects I’d like to spend a few quiet and tangible moments with. And that’s exactly what happened with the ring that belonged to the original Queen of Romance – Jane Austen.
Otto told Henri, our chief appraiser, that I would shadow him on the appraisal. That meant I would be in the room with Jane Austen’s ring of romance, white gloves in tact, and I’d get to hold it. Oh God. I could have a psychic orgasm on the spot.
So, the appraisal process began and right away Henri handed me the ring to show me some slight tarnishing below the central turquoise stone. And then it happened. As it always does. The story began pouring forth. And I didn’t do anything to stop it.
Henri prattled on about the condition of the ring. While I watched and felt the snippet movie of Jane Austen’s life.
The first scene held in her ring opens through Jane’s eyes and I stand in a large candle-lit room with pale walls. The woman next to me is wearing an expensive, imported Parisian gown with a revealing V down the back. I’m wearing a simple, cream colored cotton dress with an empire waist. A reflection of the station of life Jane was born into.
The ball is filled with exquisite music and suited gentlemen. As Jane, I’m happy just to be in the room. Though my mother is giving me the ‘eye’. The look that says I need to mingle. I need to find a husband. Sigh. A woman’s only goal in the late 1700s. A fact of life that I detest.
I look away from my mother’s glare to find a gentleman standing in front of me, bowing. When he raises, and his eyes meet mine, the attraction is instant. As if everything in my life was leading to this moment. He extends a gloved hand and asks me to dance…
I’d always wondered how a woman who lived in the 1800s and never married was able to write so accurately and passionately about love and loss. Now I would know.
Tune in tomorrow for the rest of her story ….