When history was made and the first female Church of England bishop Libby Lane was ordained last week, it was with a little piece of Blue John from the Peak District on her finger.
The Right Reverend Lane, 48, was made Bishop of Stockport at York Minster wearing an episcopal ring fashioned from the gemstone found only in Castleton. And in the congregation was the Derbyshire jeweller who had hand-crafted it.
“In December Libby’s husband, the Rev George Lane, asked me to make the Bishop’s ring,” says Anthony Darwent, of ASD Jewellers in Castleton. “It eventually dawned on me it I was making a ring that was marking history.”
Libby had chosen ASD for its work with Blue John. She grew up in Glossop in the High Peaks, loved Castleton and wanted the stone – made millions of years ago from oils trapped in calcium fluoride – set in the ring marking her consecration, said Bamford-born Anthony, who opened his shop 40 years ago after discovering his passion for the stone as a young weekend guide in the caverns. “She wanted a feminine and contemporary ring rather than the usual bulbous, heavy style and to be made in silver rather than gold.”
Anthony won’t reveal the cost, but adds: “It wasn’t the most expensive I’ve made but it was the most important.