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Britain stops U.S. pop singer's export of Jane Austen ring

23 September 2013
A silhouette of Jane Austen is seen in a window at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, southern England January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/Files
A silhouette of Jane Austen is seen in a window at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, southern England January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - A campaign to prevent U.S. pop singer Kelly Clarkson from taking a ring owned by 19th century novelist Jane Austen out of Britain has raised enough money to save it, a museum said on Monday.

The singer, who became the first contestant to win the TV singing contest "American Idol" more than a decade ago, bought the turquoise and gold antique ring at an auction last year for more than 150,000 pounds.

But Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar on the ring, which stops it leaving the country, and appealed for a British buyer to come forward and save it for the nation.

Jane Austen's House Museum said a fundraising campaign had been successful and it could now afford to buy the ring that had been owned by the Austen family for more than 200 years until its sale at auction last year.

Curator Mary Guyatt said the campaign received a 100,000 pound donation from an anonymous donor and contributions from Austen fans from all over the world.

"The museum is now able to reveal that their offer to purchase the ring has been accepted," she said in a statement.

The ring is one of only three surviving pieces of jewellery known to have belonged to the author of such classics as "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility" and "Emma". It comes with papers documenting its history within her family.

Clarkson congratulated the museum on raising the funds to purchase the ring owned by the writer who died in 1817.

"The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen's House Museum," she said in the statement.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Alison Williams)

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