Topaz has many different colours. Natural colours range from pale blue and colourless to yellow, orange, blue, brown or pink. The colour can also be artificially changed. For example, heating golden brown stones produces pink topaz, and irradiating and then heating colourless topaz creates a vivid blue stone.
This ring forms part of a collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet. Sir A. H. Church gave additional specimens in 1913. He also compiled the first catalogue Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection. The first edition appeared in 1883. The stones are mounted as rings, although they may not have been intended to be worn.
Some of these, including this stone, were originally owned by Henry Philip Hope, a brother of the novelist and antiquary Thomas Hope. H. P. Hope formed a famous collection of diamonds and precious stones which was largely inherited by his three nephews. His collection included the Hope blue diamond, now in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington.