As mentioned in the history of the fleet, King Philip V ascended to the throne amid great controversy. The subsequent war of Spanish succession was fought over his right to take the throne. One year into his reign, Philip married the 13-year old Princess Maria Luisa Gabriella of Savoy as chosen by his grandfather. The treaty of Utrecht ended the long and costly war in 1713. Unfortunately, things did not get better for King Philip. In 1714 Queen Maria Luisa died at the age of 26 of Tuberculosis. Philip was distraught.
With the queen of Spain’s death, Philip V decided to marry the Duchess of Parma, Elizabeth Farnese. She was the daughter of Odoardo Farnese, Hereditary Prince of Parma. The Duchess agreed to the marriage, however, would not consummate the union until she had received a dowry, in jewels of her choosing. The couple was married by proxy on December 24, 1714.
Philip ordered these elaborate jewels to be brought to him by the 1715 fleet. Jewelry was not a taxable commodity to the Spanish, as a result, was not recorded on official manifests. The manifest for the Capitana of the 1715 Fleet, the ship believed to have carried the jewels, listed simply “62 chests of gifts”, how many of those contained the Queen’s Jewels is debatable. However, some miscellaneous items are known to have shipped, such as a heart delicately crafted of 130 pearls, a 74 carat emerald ring, a pair of pearl earrings-each complemented with a 14 carat pearl, and a rosary of pure coral the size of small marbles. The jewels were stored in the personal cabin of the silver master of the Capitana. After the loss of the fleet, even without the jewels, the marriage of Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese was eventually consummated, as Elizabeth bore Philip seven children.
The search for this priceless cargo has provided the basis for the movies “The Deep” and more recently “Fools Gold”. 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, LLC lives this real life adventure every day! But, as with all treasures of the sea, the Queen’s Jewels will eventually be discovered, but only when the ship, sands, and sea that have been guarding them through the centuries, choose to relinquish them to a worthy soul.