Published: October 2009

Diamond Shipwreck

Diamond Wreck

Shipwreck in the Forbidden Zone

Five centuries ago a ship loaded with gold wrecked off a beach laden with diamonds.

By Roff Smith
Photographs by Amy Toensing. Art by Jon Foster

History rarely unfolds like a fable. But consider this: A 16th-century Portuguese trading vessel, carrying a fortune in gold and ivory and bound for a famed spice port on the coast of India, is blown far off course by a fierce storm while trying to round the southern tip of Africa. Days later, battered and broken, the ship founders on a mysterious, fogbound coast sprinkled with more than a hundred million carats of diamonds, a cruel mockery of the sailors' dreams of riches. None of the castaways ever return home.

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