Cynthia Rutledge - Contemporary Designs of Timeless Elegance
Treasures of the Atocha
©2016 by Cynthia Rutledge

Treasures of the Atocha ©2016 by Cynthia Rutledge

It is 1622 and the newly completed, and heavily armed, Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de la Atocha was ready to head for her Spanish home as the rear guard for a treasure convoy of Spanish ships. The convoy had arrived in Havana late due to weather, so the captains of the convoy had to make a decision, head for home and take their chances with the weather or stay in Havana harbor until after hurricane season. They were laden with an amazing amount of inventory, which made for a hard decision. However, on September 4, 1622 the convoy departed Havana harbor with fair skies to head for home.

A few days out at sea, a hurricane came out of nowhere and ripped through the convoy. The Atocha fought to stay afloat, but sometime in the night she lost her rudder and her ability to steer. She was then hit again by another hurricane, which caused her to sink on a reef bow first, losing 260 out of 265 crew and passengers, including the captain. In total eight ships were lost including two other treasure galleons, the Santa Margarita and the Nuestra Señora del Rosario.

Treasures of the Atocha ©2016 by Cynthia RutledgeThe Atocha's whereabouts had been in question since her demise until 1971 when adventurer and treasure hunter, Mel Fisher and his family and crew finally found her. The quest for treasure cost Mr. Fisher highly, claiming the lives of his son, his son's wife and three crewmembers. The "Ghost Galleon" as he called the Atocha had exchanged the five lives that were saved in 1622, for the five lives taken during excavation: a heavy price to pay.

The ships manifests showed that the Nuestra Señora de la Atocha, was carrying a heavy load of copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gem stones, jewels, jewelry and indigo, along with unregistered jewelry and personal goods. To this day, she is one of the largest sunken treasure finds in the World. Beyond the treasures that were documented, she was also carrying over three pounds of Columbian Emeralds and unregistered gold bullion, considered blood money from the slave trade. Mr. Fisher's company continues their search for more artifacts and treasure, giving us a rare glimpse into 17th century Spanish history.

"Treasures of the Atocha" is my second design based on sunken treasure. Using the manifests and images of the treasures found on the Nuestra Señora de la Atocha as my inspiration, I have incorporated gems, gold and chain into the design. The central pear CZ has a peyote stitch bezel with a deep channel of beadwork, holding Swarovski cup chain. Decorative pearl embellishments add the finishing touches. A pearl cabochon drop completes the central component. Two oval CZ's mimic the look of the central component and are connected to the pear bezel with ladder stitch chain links. Pearl cabochon chain links complete the necklace ending with two pearl cabochon buttons and a button connector.

Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
Workshop: This is a one-day workshop
Necklace length: 17 inches

On to the Madame Royale Workshop...



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