5-Carat Emerald Ring From 400-Year-Old Shipwreck Surfaces for Auction

AuctionsNov 04, 2022

5-Carat Emerald Ring From 400-Year-Old Shipwreck Surfaces for Auction

Sotheby’s estimates the piece, pulled from the sunken Nuestra Señora de Atocha, could sell for $50,000-$70,000.

This 6.25-carat octagonal step-cut emerald ring sunk with the Spanish ship Nuestra Señora de Atocha in 1622 but was recovered in 1985. On Dec. 7, Sotheby’s will put it up for auction for the first time as part of its Magnificent Jewels sale in New York.
New York—Four hundred years after it sunk in a shipwreck and more than three decades after being found, an emerald ring from one of history’s most successful treasure hunts will soon hit the auction block. 

Sotheby’s has unveiled a 5.27-carat octagonal step-cut emerald ring that will appear in its New York jewelry auction next month, salvaged from the wreck of the Spanish ship Nuestra Señora de Atocha.

The Casa de Contratación, a Spanish government agency that tried to regulate the country’s exploration and colonization efforts, commissioned the Atocha. It was constructed in Cuba and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Spain in late 1620. 

In March 1622, the Atocha joined the Tierra Firma fleet and departed Spain for the West Indies. In Cartagena, Colombia, and Portobelo, Panama, the belongings of the noble families and other passengers were loaded onto the galleon for the return journey to Spain. 

When it set out in again in September 1622, it was the middle of hurricane season, and the Atocha only made it as far as the Florida Keys before hitting a squall and sinking along the reefs. 

But the ship was far from forgotten—treasure hunters spent more than 300 years looking for it. 

Mel Fisher, a diver interested in shipwrecks, started exploring the waters of the Florida coast in the 1960s in search of Spanish ships lost in the area, including the Atocha. 

The lost ship was discovered in 1985, when Fisher’s team uncovered its main hull and, in it, a plethora of hidden treasure: about 180,000 coins and 24 tons of ingots made from Bolivian silver, as well as 125 bars of gold bullion from the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Andes, among many other items.  

The ship’s detailed log also recorded 70 pounds of rough emeralds from Colombia, sourced at Chivor and Muzo. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

As a patron of the Atocha recovery, the late agri-business pioneer Frank Perdue, founder of the eponymous poultry farming company, was given some of the treasures pulled from the shipwreck, including silver, gold coins, and gems.

Though he later donated most of the coins and other artifacts to Delaware Tech and the Smithsonian Institution, there was one jewel he kept—an emerald he had cut and mounted in a ring to propose to his wife, author and philanthropist Mitzi Perdue, in 1988.

The emerald heads to Sotheby’s straight from her personal collection. It’s expected to sell for between $50,000 and $70,000.

The ring will be offered at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale on Dec. 7 in New York—its auction debut—with proceeds from the sale supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

It joins many other notable jewels in the auction, including the 303.10-carat “Golden Canary” diamond, the largest flawless or internally flawless diamond ever graded by GIA.

Both will be on display at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning Nov. 30 as part of its “Luxury Week” sales series.

“I’m overjoyed to offer this extraordinary piece from my private collection. While I have cherished my beautiful engagement ring for over 30 years, I would like to use it now to benefit the great people of Ukraine,” Mitzi said.

“I am honored to partner with Sotheby’s in offering this jewel for auction this year, on the 400th anniversary of the Atocha Shipwreck, and I know my late husband, Frank Perdue, would share my desire to help those in dire need.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Dec. 8, 2022 to reflect a carat weight change from 6.25 carats to 5.27 carats, per an updated report from AGL, which also confirmed the emerald is of Colombian origin with minor, traditional treatment.

The Latest

Stock image of a gavel
CrimeJun 14, 2024
2 Men Sentenced to Life in 2022 Murder of Detroit-Area Jeweler

In court, Daniel Hutchinson’s loved ones remembered the jeweler as a giver, a role model, and a leader.

Billie Bangle
CollectionsJun 14, 2024
Piece of the Week: Jade Trau’s ‘Billie’ Bangle

Take a walk along this bangle’s diamond “cobblestone” made from round-, pear-, and marquise-cut diamonds.

Graphic with headshots for My Next Question 2024 Las Vegas webinar
Recorded WebinarsJun 14, 2024
Watch: What Happened in Vegas in 2024

The National Jeweler editors discuss the hot topics, best jewels, and current trends that stood out during Jewelry Market Week.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Vera Wang Love True lab-grown diamond engagement ring
FinancialsJun 13, 2024
Signet Awaits Engagement Recovery as Q1 Sales Sink 9%

The company is expecting to see a 5 to 10 percent increase in engagements this year.

Weekly QuizJun 13, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
QVC HSN logo
MajorsJun 13, 2024
HSN, QVC Parent Company Faces Delisting

Qurate Retail is in the middle of a turnaround plan as it battles declining sales.

Marie Lichtenberg Scapular necklace
TrendsJun 13, 2024
Amanda’s Style File: For the Fathers

Showcase your dad’s personal style with a piece of fine jewelry for Father’s Day.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Charles & Colvard moissanite ring
GradingJun 12, 2024
IGI to Grade Charles & Colvard Moissanite

The partnership follows the launch of the jewelry company’s B2B moissanite platform.

Bruce Cleaver
SourcingJun 12, 2024
Bruce Cleaver Is Gemfields’ New Chair

The former De Beers CEO will step into the role next month.

Rose cut arch cabochons Columbia Gem House
SourcingJun 12, 2024
State of Colored Stones: Why the Market Is More Colorful Than Ever

As prices of “The Big Three” skyrocket, supply dwindles, and focus on sustainability grows, an age of open-mindedness is dawning.

Edward Arthur Jewelers logo
IndependentsJun 11, 2024
Edward Arthur Jewelers to Close After 53 Years

Owner Randy Brooks, whose brother opened the Maryland jewelry store in 1971, is retiring.

Greenwich St jewelers pride raffle
IndependentsJun 11, 2024
Greenwich St. Jewelers Is Hosting a Pride Month Raffle

Tickets to win a ring are for sale until June 13, with proceeds going to a trans care nonprofit.

National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith
ColumnistsJun 11, 2024
Vegas Musings: Equal Parts Noise and Inspiration

Fresh off Jewelry Market Week 2024, Peter Smith separates the positive—retail and product innovation—from the positively annoying.

Katherine Jetter CASE Award winning ring
Events & AwardsJun 11, 2024
The 2024 CASE Awards Are Open for Entries

Submissions will be accepted now through July 17.

Swarovski New York City flagship
IndependentsJun 10, 2024
State of Retail: 4 Retail Design Trends for 2024

From lighter color palettes to the integration of AR, experts offer inspiration for jewelers in need of an aesthetic refresh.

Van Cleef & Arpels 1929 tie necklace
AuctionsJun 10, 2024
Van Cleef & Arpels Necklace From 1929 Sells for $3.6M at Auction

The rare piece went home with a Sotheby’s executive.

Woman shopping
SurveysJun 10, 2024
Consumer Confidence Rises in May Despite Anxiety About the Future

Expectations of a recession rose for the second consecutive month.

Sotheby’s watch executives Sam Hines and Geoff Hess
WatchesJun 10, 2024
Sotheby’s Makes Changes at Top of Watch Division

Sam Hines returns to the auction house as chairman, watches, while Geoff Hess moves up to the role of global head of watches.

Elephants wading in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
SourcingJun 10, 2024
State of the Diamond Industry: Botswana Beyond Diamonds

From moringa to ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, the country and its leaders are exploring how Botswana can diversify its economy.

Seymour Holtzman
IndependentsJun 07, 2024
Seymour Holtzman of CD Peacock Dies at 88

He was remembered by loved ones as “an authentic, original American entrepreneur.”

45 carat yellow diamond
AuctionsJun 07, 2024
Phillips to Auction 45-Carat Yellow Diamond

The stone features rare step-cut faceting and is estimated to sell for up to $3.5 million.

Tabayer Oera ‘Unity’ Ring
CollectionsJun 07, 2024
Piece of the Week: Tabayer’s Oera ‘Unity’ Ring

Crafted in Fairmined gold with a rainbow of agate, the ring is a joyful symbol of inclusivity, diversity, and solidarity.

INS Show_NJ Supplier eBlast Banner.jpg
Supplier BulletinJun 06, 2024
Join INSTORE This August in Rosemont!

Grab Your Free Show Badge Today. Sponsored by INSTORE

Sarah Alden
IndependentsJun 06, 2024
GoFundMe Launched Following Jeweler’s Murder

Vintage jewelry seller Sarah Alden, 53, died after a brutal attack at the Venice Canals in Los Angeles.

Sylvester Stallone Sotheby’s watch
AuctionsJun 06, 2024
Sotheby’s Auction of Sylvester Stallone’s Watches Was a Knockout

The auction house sold all 11 watches from the “Rocky” star’s collection, with his Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime setting a new record.

Stock image of a gavel
CrimeJun 06, 2024
2 Men Found Guilty in 2022 Murder of Detroit-Area Jeweler

A jury convicted Marco Bisbikis and Roy Larry in the murder-for-hire plot targeting Daniel “Hutch” Hutchinson, owner of Hutch’s Jewelry.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy