Cynthia Rutledge - Contemporary Designs of Timeless Elegance
The Mother Lode
©2016 by Cynthia Rutledge

The Mother Lode ©2016 by Cynthia RutledgeThe Mother Lode is my third design inspired by the story of the famous treasure hunt by Mel Fisher for the sunken Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. On July 20th, 1985 Mel's team, after a 16-year search, finally found the Atocha Mother Lode. Mel's mantra "Today's the day!" finally paid off, big time.

The Atocha was the richest of the 28 ships in the Tierra Firme Fleet that were preparing to depart Havana, Cuba for their home country, Spain, on September 4th, 1622. She was the military escort for the fleet, so was responsible for defending the fleet from piracy, both private and government-sponsored, which was common. Not only was she carrying her precious cargo of goods she also carried wealthy passengers, statesman, clergy and a few slaves.

Unfortunately, the fleet was six weeks behind schedule. Only a few days out to sea on their homeward bound journey, the Atocha, along with four other galleons in the fleet, were hit hard by a hurricane and sank off the coast of Key West in September of the same year.

The holds of the Atocha carried the wealth of an Empire, consisting of gold and emeralds from Columbia, silver from Peru and Mexico, pearls from Venezuela, and gemstones from Brazil. Her astonishing cargo also included 125 gold bars, discs and money chains; 24 tons of silver bullion in the form of ingots and silver coins; dozens of chest of emeralds (uncut, with few inclusions and a deep herbal-green color) and other gemstones; chests of indigo, copper ingots, bales of tobacco, and 1200 pounds of worked silverware!

The Mother Lode ©2016 by Cynthia RutledgeA peyote stitch tube, worked in a spiral, represents the Atocha's stash of what they called "money chains". These were beautiful chains of gold, and each link represented an average workers yearly wage. Filling the space between the spirals, are five shapes, beginning with the cushion-cut CZ center. This component has a simple bezel that is extended to create a more "coin-like" shape. The next component is a marriage of three parts. A beautiful flat metal ring, set with Swarovski crystals, is bezeled and fed onto to a Swarovski pearl stem that allows the metal ring to rotate. The pearl stem is then extended and built around the metal ring representing another coin shape. The last component is a trillion CZ, simply bezeled, representing the loose emeralds and gemstones found on the Atocha. All of the components are confined within the "money-chain" tubes and end with a beautiful Swarovski embellished metal clasp and a beaded safety chain.

Skill level: This workshop is designed for the intermediate to advanced student. You must be comfortable with peyote stitch.

Bracelet length: 7 ½ inches long

Workshop: This is a 2-day workshop

On to Treasures of the Atocha Workshop...

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