Lost, and then Found

Cynthia Rutledge

Sunday, April 2
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Intermediate

It took 349 years to find the lost Spanish galleon, Nuestra Seņora de la Atocha off the coast of the Florida Keys, and to date she still holds the record for one of the largest sunken treasure finds of all time. Hit by a hurricane in September of 1622, she sank taking all but 5 lives with her. Her loss must have been devastating to the Spanish. She was on her way home, on her maiden voyage, laden with gold and silver (ingots, coins and huge chains), copper, gemstones including flawless emeralds, religious jewelry, indigo, tobacco, artifacts and personal goods.

The Atocha's cargo was that of legend but she remained illusive until adventurer and treasure hunter, Mel Fisher finally located the wreckage of the largest galleon of her time in 1971. Mel's nickname for her, "The Ghost Galleon", was finally ready to give up her secrets! Mel's motto of "today is the day!" had finally come true and his life would never be the same.

Upon the Atocha's discovery, Mel found out that she had other cargo that wasn't on the manifest, leading to the speculation that she was engaging in the slave trade that was big business at the time of her demise. Undocumented Columbian emeralds, huge chains of gold rings called "money chains" and unregistered gold bullion were common forms of "blood money" in the 17th century, giving the Atocha a shady past, but at the same time lending even more intrigue to her story.

The Nuestra Seņora de la Atocha stands as a testament to the skill of early adventurers in ship construction, navigation, documentation of the trading routes and the sorts of goods that were being bought and sold. Priceless information has been gathered to give us in the 21st century a glimpse into what life was like in 17th century Spain.

Lost, and then Found, is my fifth design inspired by the historical significance of sunken treasure. A wrap-style bracelet of two strips of peyote stitch joined with pearls follows my inspiration from the "money chains" found aboard the galleon. The bracelet ends with a CZ button and loop connection. Five components embellish the top wrap of the bracelet representing the coins and gemstones that were part of the Atocha's treasure. As the bracelet wraps around the wrist, the embellishments ride on the diagonal lending a very attractive, contemporary look to this bracelet.

 

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