LONDON (AFP) – The British government has blocked US singer Kelly Clarkson from taking a ring once owned by author Jane Austen out of the country, a minister said on Thursday.
Clarkson, who shot to fame as the winner of the "American Idol" TV talent contest in 2002, bought the gold and turquoise ring for more than ??150,000 ($227,000, 172,000 euros) at an auction last year.
But junior culture minister Ed Vaizey has barred temporarily the export of the ring in a bid to keep it in Britain.
It is one of only three surviving pieces of jewellery known to have belonged to the 19th century author, whose novels including "Pride and Prejudice," "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility" are among Britain's best-loved classics.
"Jane Austen's modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare," Vaizey said.
"So I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation."
The export bar will last until at least September 30, and can be extended until December 30 if a buyer in Britain shows "a serious intention to raise funds" to match the price Clarkson paid.
Known for hits including "A Moment Like This" and "Since U Been Gone", the 31-year-old Texan singer has sold more than 20 million albums.
She revealed in October that British officials were trying to prevent her from taking the ring home after she bought it at an auction three months earlier.
"We put in an export request but I can't take it out of the UK as they've named it a national treasure," she told the Daily Star newspaper.
She described herself as a "big history nerd" who had visited Derbyshire in central England, where the 2005 film version of "Pride and Prejudice" starring Keira Knightley was filmed.