A stormy night,
officer unrest and a near mutiny, found the Nuestra Señora
de la Concepción in dire straights. She was the largest
Spanish galleon built in her time, as well as the richest. She
was laden with Chinese silks & rugs, spices, porcelain, ivory,
between one million to four million silver pesos, assorted jewelry,
pearls, emeralds and gold dust. A King's ransom!
20, 1638 the galleon tried desperately to clear Saipan's Agingan
Point (a point on the largest island of the Northern Mariana
Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, 120 miles north of Guam)
but was hurled into the reef by towering waves and pulverized
against the coral, spilling ballast and cargo from the gaping
holes below the waterline. Most of her crew, along with the wealthy
merchants that were on board went down with her.
Because of unusual
circumstances, she traveled without an inventory of her cargo
but the excavation (begun in 1993) yielded more than 1,300 pieces
of 22.5-karat gold jewelry - chains, crucifixes, beads, buckles,
filigree buttons, rings and brooches set with precious stones.
The Concepción wreck site yielded a time capsule of early
17th-century jewelry and has proved that European-style jewelry
was being made in the Philippines.
loss of the Concepción proved very costly to the Spanish
crown. King Phillip IV of Spain (1605-1665) and his Queen Consort,
Elisabeth of France (1602-1644) must have been devastated by
the news. The Queen Consort was the daughter of Henry IV of France
and Queen Marie de' Medici and their first female child. She
was given the name of Madame Royale to proclaim her status.
The most expensive
jewelry would have been secured in the Captain's chest. My inspiration
came from utilizing some of the imagery taken of the jewelry
recovered from the Concepción and the paintings of the
lovely Queen Consort, Elisabeth.
peyote stitched, triangular shapes are fitted with bezeled teardrop
CZ's. Linked together with ladder-stitched strips, this beautiful
chain is fit for a Queen. A pearl chain completes the necklace
ending with two lovely buttons and a bezeled CZ connector. Maybe
some day the excavators will find the back of the Concepción
and find the Captain's chest. Who knows what may be inside!