Tourmaline shows the greatest colour range of any gemstone. Pink or green stones are most popular. The colour of tourmaline varies according to the direction in which the crystal is viewed. Some green or blue tourmaline can appear almost black if viewed down the length of the crystal. It is therefore important that the crystal is correctly positioned when being cut.
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.
Townshend purchased a number of stones, including this one, from Henry Philip Hope, the brother of the novelist and antiquary Thomas Hope. H.P. Hope formed a famous collection of diamonds and precious stones including the Hope blue diamond, now in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington.