Thursday, July 7, 2011


Thirty-five miles west of Key West, treasure hunters searching the shipwreck site of a famous Spanish galleon discovered a large emerald and gold ring buried in the ocean’s floor.

The crew that made the discovery has estimated its value at $500,000. It is likely that it came from the Muzo mines in Colombia and is about 10 carats in size in an antique setting.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the ship and the firm of Mel’s Treasures continues to search for the Atocha’s sterncastle, the rear part of the ship where the clergy, aristocrats and ship captain kept their valuables for safekeeping which would have included gold, silver and many rare Muzo emeralds. It is believed that 60 pounds of theemeralds were on the ship, some smuggled on board in a 70-pound keg to avoid the Spanish king’s 20 percent tax.

Discovered with the ring were two silver spoons and two silver encrusted objects, which will be examined in the conservation lab at Mel Fisher’s Treasures in Key West.

The find was within 300 feet of a gold rosary and gold bar that were unburied earlier this year.

Mel Fisher’s Treasures has been searching for the Atocha’s buried treasure since 1969; to date the company has recovered about $500 million in historic artifacts, gold, silver and emeralds. The firm estimates that another $500 million from the Atocha is still buried and waiting to be discovered.