To find sunken treasure is the dream of many a boy and buccaneer.
One man’s dream became a reality when in 1985 after 16 years searching Mel and Deo Fisher discovered, buried in the sands near the sunken wreck of the Spanish galleon ‘Atocha’ a cache of 13,500 carats of emeralds from the legendary Muzo mines in Columbia.
After recovery of the sunken treasures, buried for over 360 years, the second largest of the emeralds from this treasury was christened the Atocha Star. Some years later Deo had the emerald cut from its raw 26 carats to a magnificent 12.72 carat gem in which she saw life reflected.
The allegory of the sunken treasure had another path. Ron Shore, a man with a passion for treasure hunts, had a dream of the Worlds Greatest Treasure Hunt – Search for the Golden Eagle. His dream was to create a solid gold Maltese Eagle, the biggest of its kind in the world, a collector’s piece of exquisite art and enormous value, a strictly unique piece. His incentive had come from tragedy when his sister-in-law passed away from breast cancer. The challenge he set himself was to create this golden eagle and to promote it as a pinnacle of sculpture in gold.
So he needed the best sculptors and goldsmiths in the world and he found them. Four years passed with thousands of hours of research and experimentation before the eagle spread its wings. Three high hurdles were faced and leapt.
The structuring and casting of the Maltese Eagle with over 8kg of gold of various carat, such as the 14 carat gold beak on an 18 carat white gold head, were faced and overcome by Kevin Peters, a sculptor of great renown whose works sit in the most prestigious and regal galleries. Two lost wax casting moulds were created over a six month period, and the first was trialled with silver.
For those who understand casting with bronze, the challenges of working with gold of different carats will be apparent. For the rest of us the 10 stage process is a technological and artistic tour de force. The technical mistakes found in the silver casting were rectified and the perfect gold eagle was cast and hand finished.
The second hurdle was to embed and decorate the eagle’s proud head with diamonds and to create the eyes through which the eagle would command the world. Lewis Court is a long time pupil of the great silversmith, Norman Brassant. Lewis was approached and accepted this challenge. He set two 1,1 carat matched pear shaped diamonds for the eyes and then decorated the eagles white gold head with 763 fine diamonds totalling 56 carats.
The third hurdle was to seek a magnificent jewel from a sunken treasure. Here Deo Fisher offered her emerald, the Atocha Star, to be embedded in the breast of the eagle, in which it now stands under the guardianship of this Maltese Eagle.
This treasure, its magnificent beauty, created from historical and recent day tragedies, is a modern day real life fable. The solid gold Maltese Eagle is not a treasure that anyone can acquire. Its replacement value has been reliably estimated to be over $6 Million. Its special allure is for a collector who understand the value of such wonderful artistic talent on top of the inherent value in the precious gold, diamonds and the Atocha Star emerald.