The Lost Emeralds and The Incas

Have you heard of the Incas' lost gold and emeralds? In this article, you will learn about Stewart Connelly, a Red Cross American Volunteer during WWI who discovered one of the world's most valued lost antiques.

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Lost emeralds
The First Conquistadors
When Pizarro initiated his conquest of the Inca empire in August 1530, he became obsessed with the newly found emeralds in America. He quickly started stealing every stone he could lay his hands on, including temples and ceremonial statues. He removed a huge Inca emerald, the size of an ostrich egg, from the forehead of the goddess Illa Jica, the goddess of creation, who was worshiped in Quito's sun temple. He directs Father Velasquez, who accompanied him, to search for the mines that produce such gems, driven by a morbid desire to own all that will increase his fortune.

But the reckless Pizarro had no idea where to look for these extraordinary mines other than a vague spot he had heard of, somewhere deep in the jungle northeast of Quito, near the current Colombian border. Pizarro's troops, who were also insanely fascinated with the yellow metal and this recently discovered brilliant green stone, tortured the Incas and interrogated them about where those mines could be found. Although being tortured, quartered, and dumped into boiling oil, they managed to keep the precious stone's identity secret. The Spaniards were never unable to locate these mines…

…Until one day…
Francisco Pizzarro. He was the first to begin the Inca conquest, during the 16th century.
The Story Of Stewart Connelly
The centuries passed until the beginning of the XXth century. Stewart Connelly, a Red Cross American Volunteer during the WWI, read and reread Father Velasquez's notes who was accompanying Pizarro at the time. He spent the majority of his time in South America studying the history of the conquistadors, intrigued by their adventures and the immense treasures they brought back to Spain. Connelly was convinced that the gemstone mines were beyond his grasp.

One day, he then decided to discover the mines by himself. He flew to Ecuador, then boarded a banana transporter freighter bound for Guayaquil before transferring to a train heading for Quito. He traveled south after a few weeks, ascending the Andes cordillera and entering the dense jungle.

Nine months after Connelly's departure, two Spanish religious from the advanced mission of Ahuana on the Rio Napo saw him, fully naked, swimming desperately across a turbulent river. They noticed him passing out when he reached the shore and then decided to take him to the nearest mission.

When Connelly woke up, the first thing he did was reach for the small leather bag that had been slung around his waist. He opened the leather room and pulled out a spectacular dark green emerald weighing approximately 50 carats. He handed it to the mission's Superior, explaining that it was an offering to thank everyone for saving his life.
Sculpture of Inca General Ruminahui (1490-1535 CE) in Quito, Ecuador.
Did He Really Find The Lost Emeralds?
How did Connelly manage to survive in the jungle despite its dangers? According to his report, he came across members of a tribe armed with blowpipes after wandering for a long time. He'd read in Father Velasquez's book that even if strangers were white, Indians would never kill crazy people! As a result, Connely screamed, shrugged, and played his flute when he saw them for the first time (you may have heard of this "flute" legend). He seemed to be so delusional that the indigenous peoples took him in and adopted him. His new hosts told him that a neighbouring tribe, though very far away from their village, lived on land that concealed these green gems, which, however, piqued no one's interest. When Connelly arrived at this new destination, he "introduced" himself in the same way he had done before and was once again rescued by this new tribe.

He chose a new tribe companion and began hunting with him. During one of these hunting excursions, he discovered a vein of magnificent emeralds. Connelly picked up some stones of a vivid green he'd never seen before and placed them in the small pouch that Indians use to transport their hunted food. They returned to the village two days later with two hundred pounds of tapir. But Connelly had to return his valuables to the closest city and t o secure his new fortune, he had to convert some of it into cash and return with mules and appropriate equipment.

Connelly was surrounded getting close to Quito by an army of treasure hunters and adventure seekers who had all heard his story and wanted to accompany him when he returned to the mine. Connelly and his group of travelers set out from Quito, Ecuador, with six mules equipped with food and ammo for several months. They arrived in Puerto Najo ten days later, where they took a brief break before continuing on their journey. Years passed, and no one saw Stewart Connelly or his associates again. Their fate remains one of the Amazon's mysteries, as the savage Indians continue to menace foreigners who wish to enter their land.
Ecuador's dense Amazonian jungle

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Benjamin Poudevigne
Social Media Manager at GemMatrix
With over ten years of marketing experience, I finally decided to settle down in Bangkok to work in an area that I have always been interested in: the gemstones industry. I'm still learning how the market works on a daily basis, and I enjoy sharing my experience with those who are interested in learning more about gems in general.