Cinta Physical Object

Accession Number
Creation Date
circa 1575 – 1600
This spectacular, multi-element piece of jewelry was designed to impress. It is comprised of twenty-four conjoined, alternating, near-square, and rectangular cartouche-form medallions. Each is elaborately decorated with beaded scrolls, spherules, flower heads, quatrefoils, and they are variously mounted for pearls and gemstones. Three medallions are set with table-cut rubies, four are set with table-cut diamonds, and eight hold dual ring-set pearls. The array of links would have formed either piece of a matched cinta (belt) and collar (necklace) set. As a cinta, it would have encircled the small of the wearer’s waist; as a collar, it would have gone around the neck and draped onto the chest.

4.7 x 4.1 x 1.2 cm. 33.19 grams. Original Treasure Salvors Inc. artifact card has weight as 33.27 grams and measurement as 4.8 x 4.2 x 1.5 cm. Length overall 74.3 cm. 608.67 grams

Exhibition Label
Case/Object Caption (2023):

Gold, pearls, diamonds, rubies (c.1600)
Gift of Jamestown Inc.

This elaborate cinta would have been the possession of a very wealthy woman, probably a high-ranking courtier or a princess. It was constructed so that it could be taken apart or reconnected to make different lengths, fitting the wearer as a matching belt and a necklace. If given to a child, it could be altered as the young wearer’s body matured.
Unfortunately, many of the links of this cinta were lost in the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. However, the pieces seen here are unique in today’s world. Although cintas may be seen in paintings of noblewomen of the late 1500s, these links are the only examples known to have survived the ravages of time. By the mid-1600s, a cinta would have been considered old fashioned. Frequently, a young woman would have her forebear’s jewelry taken apart and its elements remade in a new design.