The lost jewels of the Maharajah of Karputalah
The P&O Liner Persia - Gems retrieved in deepest salvage operation ?
Announcement in the press that the world’s deepest salvage operation has retrieved a cache of rubies from a British ship laden with gold and jewels that sank to a depth of 10,000ft.
The SS Persia was torpedoed by a German U-boat while carrying a maharajah’s treasure across the Mediterranean in 1915 and remained beyond reach for 88 years.
The 500ft, 7,974-ton Persia — one of P & O’s most luxurious passenger liners — was carrying cargo worth more than £10m, including the gold and jewels of the Maharajah Jagatjit Singh. Her passengers included Eleanor Thornton, the inspiration for the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette that adorns the bonnet of Rolls-Royce cars.
The ship was torpedoed without warning off Crete on December 30, 1915, by U28 and sank in several thousands of meter deep with the loss of 334 lives. Thornton was among them.
400 pink and red gemstones were salvaged and landed in the UK. The Receiver of Wreck arranged for assessments at the National Museum of Scotland and Scottish Gemological Association.