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J.Grahl Design (Shipwreck Jewelry)


(Anyone else: Skip below if you’re not interested in a capsule history.)

It was more a treatise on the upheaval and chaos of the seventeenth century in Europe. Your shipwreck of 1622 was four years after the start of the Thirty Years War (mostly the German States – started as a religious war and ended as a land-grab in 1648). Then there was the French civil war (when Louis XIV was a minor), and the English civli war (Cromwell and his band of wretched … I need to be polite here), then in 1688 the so-called Bloodless Revolution (I don’t think Monmouth saw it that way), also in England. Tacked on to all that were wars between France and England, and wars where France and England were allies, as well as fighting off the Turks at the very gates of Vienna.

Of course, they started the 18th century with the War of the Spanish Succession and then dealt with the South Sea Bubble in 1720.

The … is irony the right word? … here is that after the South Sea Bubble, there was over 20 years of peace (in Britain), due to one of the most corrupt politicians in British history – Robert Walpole. A very interesting man.

Anyway, it was the 17th century in Europe that was such a conflagration.

The past is a very strange place.

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Thanks so much for a brief and well worded encapsulation of a very bizarre time in history.
Did anyone like each other???

Stunning work Jim. Stunning work. I think then, everyone was feeling
eachother out. (Or everyone’s ancestry was at war with eachother)

My family tree goes back to the 15th century (the Grahl end, the others are Mac Lean & O’Conner, so you can imagine the inbreeding and in fighting there…).
But with DNA searches, I find a whole lot of other mixes too)
To me, it just says border changes and migrations.
Those are usually the people looking for a better and (hopefully) more peaceful life.
In truth, the leaders of who we call ancestors, were rarely of the culture they led. If you dig into the Hapsburg family alone, you’ll find allegiances with every country in both Eastern and wester Europe, They all intermarried for political gain. We are just the tools… drawn into wars created to display power and further riches. That was
the nature of thinking and what, at the time, was defined as a desire to unite the “people” under one religious system. It’s hard to look back at, we now call it brutality, they called it “Divine Destiny”.
In the present, I just hope to see our art preserved and not reformed int a tool of war.
The Atocha, and wrecks of the like are a platform for a story now, far more than just the accumulation of wealth. The story continues here…

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Beautiful work! The settings for the coins are just wonderful and I love the border of pearls around the last one. It echos much of the imperial jewelry while maintaining a slight more contemporary design. Fantastic!

One of these days I’m going to get a 2 or 4 escudo 1715 fleet coin. That’s one of those things that I’ve always wanted, but just never really could commit to anytime the opportunity arose.

Outa’ the box…
Black jade from Guatemala (Jay Riddenger mine)
1622 2 Real coin fron the Nuestra Senora de Atocha (sunk 1622)
18K /22 K yellow gold.
Quetzalcoatl in reticulated 22 K
Created for Alex Dryer, 1982.

These are beautifully designed and constructed pieces, all-thanks you for sharing these…just another great thing I’ve gotten to see since I joined this group to get some help with my primitive questions…! thanks!

Well, 1622 being the last time this coin saw light until 1983 certainly qualifies it as having an age…
The process of aging is another thing.
The surface you see on the coin is what happens when a piece of silver (in this case a 1621 Eight Reales coin from the Atocha Shipwreck), rolls around the ocean’s floor for 360 years. Sand and sea growth etch and abrade the surface so that only the faintest of detail remains.
Encased in the "Dolphin " motif that was used extensively on the lifting rings of cannon of the era (I know it looks like a dragon… the Spanish made sea monsters out of everything they saw…)
A key fob now, custom Ostrich skin and sterling silver create a background.

The spirit of Old…
The coin,
eight Reales, sunk in 1622 (Santa Margarita, Atocha’s sister ship) recovered in 1985…
The piece,
Sterling, 18K, Cultured pearls, natural freshwater pearls, Tahitian Keishi, emerald, tourmaline drop.
Hand fabricated

Awesome piece. May I ask how do attach the end piece hook clamps on the rope? Is it compressed mechanically or simply epoxied?

Hi Rick,
Sorry for the delayed response.
I generally glue and rivet a blind pin through any cording I use.
Thanks for asking,

Jim: your pieces are beautiful and thank you for sharing not only the works of art but the history lesson as well.

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Thank you for the info, that is very helpful!

Star of the show…
This is the very first “Atocha” piece from our studio, This was in 1982, just before the announcement of the Big Find. (all the certification processes had just been cleared with the State of Florida and the Federal Government)
This is a two Escudo, Potosi Mint, circa 1615. It’s as near perfect as any coin recovered.The jeweling is done in platinum, diamond, 18K yellow gold and a graduated “hank” (multi strand) of Biwa pearls and Rice pearls, all cultured and the brown’s dyed.
This was done for one of Mel Fisher’s original investors who was also a friend of mine, it also started our direct involvement with the Fisher family and working directly with the museum in Key West…(and that is another story… what a cast of characters in the Keys)
(Sylvia Bissonnette photo)

Shipwreck again…
It’s hard to imagine what history lays inside this 4 Real from the “Plate Fleet”, a series of Spanish Galleons that sunk off of Vero Beach through Sebastian Inlet in 1722.
We are still seeing the power of Irma as this is being written. This is hurricane season in the Caribbean and Cuba, Florida and all in the mix get hammered, this year, every year for the length of recorded history.
In 1722, 22 boats went down, many within 200 feet of the shore, and yet , there were but a handful of survivors. Mast high seas, shallow bottoms, and a culture of Europeans that barely understood bathing, let alone swimming, all added up to hundreds dead, and millions of dollars strewn across the sea’s floor.
Here is a survivor, here to tell a small part of a story of when the Spanish stole silver from the Peruvians and Maya, when they enslaved the Indio’s to carry their burden and labor without mercy, a story where the religion forced upon those slaves caused not spiritual elevation, but grief of lost solace in what was their history and culture.
This coin, so brightly incased in 18K , Platinum and mother of pearl is treasure… and a glimpse into a past where the value of one culture was destroyed in order to finance the expansion of another.

Sorry for the typo… it’s the 1715 Plate fleet this coin came from.
Thanks (Old) Jim