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

Kelly Clarkson performs "Don't Rush" during the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas April 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Kelly Clarkson performs "Don't Rush" during the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas April 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government is trying to prevent U.S. pop singer Kelly Clarkson from taking a rare turquoise and gold ring, once owned by 19th century novelist Jane Austen, out of the country.

The singer, who became the first contestant to win American Idol more than a decade ago, bought the antique ring at an auction last year for more than 150,000 pounds ($227,000).

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

"She (Austen) is one of our greatest writers and greatest national treasures and I think people will feel very strongly about it," Vaizey told BBC radio on Friday.

The ring is one of only three surviving pieces of jewelry 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.

Buyers have until September 30 to match the 152,450 pound price Clarkson paid for the ring.

If a UK institution or private buyer does not come forward, the export license for the ring will be granted to Clarkson, who is said to be a "huge fan" of Austen.

But the decision on the export license can be extended to December 30 if proof emerges of a serious intention to raise funds.

A spokesperson for Clarkson could be not reached.

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by Paul Casciato)

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