Margarita Pearls Undergoing Conservation

by Ron Pierson

The pearls are currently in the lab at Mel Fisher’s Treasures undergoing conservation, including the 30 pearls sent to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for analysis. The GIA provided a 108-page report explaining their test results and we will continue to review the report and learn even more about these incredible artifacts including their history, current condition, and care.


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Margarita Pearls Update: GIA Assists

by R. Duncan Mathewson III, Ph.D., BWVKW Archaeological Director

Key West is playing host to Akira Hyatt, pearl expert from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). She has arrived to assist us in the sorting and classification of the thousands of pearls recently discovered by Blue Water Ventures Key West on the Margarita site. The company working under a joint venture partnership with the Mel Fisher’s Treasures Group, feels confident that there are many more pearls and treasure of all types still to be found in the widely dispersed shipwreck scatter leading to the “mother lode.”

Akira is working together with Gary Randolph, Vice President, Director of Operations at Mel Fisher’s Treasures and Jim Sinclair, Archeologist in a close examination of the pearls. This involves the painstaking sorting of the pearls ranging in size from as small as a sand grain to as large as 22mm in diameter. All pearls are being classified into six different categories using size, shape, color, luster, and surface as major attributes.

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What's Next for the Margarita Pearls?

by R. Duncan Mathewson III, Ph.D., BWVKW Archaeological Director

Preliminary research on the pearls clearly suggests that this assemblage of 1622 pearls is one of the biggest and best preserved collections of its type ever before found together in such good condition on a historic shipwreck. No doubt the silt inside the lead box all contributed to their excellent preservation. Its historical and archaeological significance is only just beginning to emerge. Many months of research and expert analysis will be necessary before we extract all the information we can from this assemblage.

But the pearls are already beginning to come into focus with some preliminary enquiries with specialists who have been working with pearls for years at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It is clear that this pearl assemblage is from the Isle of Margarita off the Venezuelan coast. History tells us that ever since Columbus's discovery of the Americas, pearls from the Isle of Margarita were one of the most sought after Spanish riches of the New World. And the documented research of the 1622 fleet disaster by Dr. Lyon also tells us that at least one merchant vessel of the 1622 Flotilla made a special visit to the Isle of Margarita to collect pearls from the Indian pearl divers who regularly supplied the treasure ships with the much sought after luxury commodity. They free dived up from 100 feet. The historical facts very clearly jives with the archaeological evidence from the sea bed establishing beyond any doubts that these pearls from the break up of the Santa Margarita must be originally from the pearl divers of the Isle of Margarita within a contextual date of no later than 1622.


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Margarita Island, Venezuela




Margarita Island, Venezuela
Photographic Print


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"Ocean of Pearls"

The tense juxtaposition of ancient culture and modern world has offered ample subject matter to filmmakers the past couple of decades, and "Ocean of Pearls" shows the theme is far from exhausted.

That it does so in a pointedly low-key manner — no heads get broken here — makes it all the more interesting, even if the dramatic cues lean at times toward TV-movie territory.

First-time director and writer (and physician) Sarab Neelam deals with a difficult, complex subject in a manner that is obviously heartfelt.

Amrit Singh (Omid Ahtabi) is a Sikh physician in Toronto when he's lured to a new transplant program in Detroit. Leaving behind his girlfriend, Smita (Navi Rawat), Amrit moves to Michigan.

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Pearls Hidden for Centuries

by Dave Hunt
(The Times-Union)

Even by a conservative estimate, pearls hidden for centuries in the ocean in a small lead box have helped a Jacksonville native's $1 million discovery double in value.

Keith Webb said he was amazed at the box's contents. The 1973 Englewood High School grad, who keeps residences in Clay County and the Keys, is owner of Blue Water Ventures, a company that found the treasure last weekend offshore from Key West.

"Man, once we opened it up - black pearls, white pearls, pearls as big as a grape," Webb said.

The lead box was among gold and artifacts Webb's crew unloaded Thursday. The booty, initially valued at $1 million, was collected at the wreck site of the Santa Margarita, a Spanish ship that went down during a hurricane in 1622.

Mathewson said the pearls likely were brought aboard off the coast of Venezuela before the Santa Margarita's captain piloted the ship toward Havana to rendezvous with the fleet.



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Francisqui Island, Los Roques National Park, Venezuela




Francisqui Island, Los Roques National Park, Venezuela
Framed Photographic Print


Sanford, Eric


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