It was a fisherman in the Svalbard archipelago that found it, after at least fifty years of being lost. He was coming back from one of his journeys into the ocean and crossed by one of the many rocks that formed the archipelago. This was close to the main island. As he sailed back to his home, he saw one of this rocks filled with seagulls that had made their nests on the highest parts of the rocks. The fisherman never really looked at the rocks, he was very used to them, but this time something caught his attention. It was something that sparkled with the last rays of the sun. It was almost night but you could easily see how bright the thing sparkled.
He sailed right for it, curious to see what was it. Seagulls, and birds in general, were known to love shiny things and he thought that maybe it was a piece of glass or something equally ordinary but as he closed in he looked up and used a pair of binoculars that his son had gave him as a present to spot birds flying over large banks of fish. He pointed them at the nest and almost fell to the water when realizing that what sparkled wasn’t a piece of glass or tin can. It was a bracelet. It consisted of a thin central ring, made probably of silver, and many charms went through the ring. Some were made of gold; some others had jewels of many colors.
Desperate to see it closer, the fisherman tried to reach the nest but it was too high. He couldn’t just take it with his hand and the rock was slippery do to the water and the waste made by the birds. He realized he needed to climb the wall or get the nest down somehow. He then tried to climb the wall, but slipped easily, almost falling in the wrong way. He did fell to the water and had to return to the boat all wet. He then realized a storm was forming so he had do make fast decisions. He decided to leave and return early the next day, weather permitting, as the birds wouldn’t let the piece be lost. Many of them were already at the rock and circling the boat, as keeping an eye on him. So he turned on the engine and decided to come back another time, thinking the treasure would be there the next day.
Little did he know that the bracelet was not only a small piece of wealth, it was actually a piece of history that time itself had forgotten long ago. The piece, or at least the central ring and one of the charms, had being created by a tribe now nonexistent of South America. They had made it especially for their lord, a local chieftain that many in the world would know through the legend of Eldorado. Yes, that man was the original owner of the piece, which was specially created for him thinking that he needed the bracelet to be kind of his gift to the gods one he had entered communion with them. The shape of the bracelet, which locked with the small head of a snake, was made to be an offer to the gods and sign of power.
But that small piece of jewelry only survived some years before being taken away in one of the many trips done by the Spaniards, which had arrived recently to the region. They took many of their riches and simply put them in crates and other types of containers and took them to the coast. There, some guy just checked every object and determined if it was worth something and if they should give it to the royal family or if they should keep it for themselves.
A man called Carlos Díaz saw the bracelet, which had already been put on the boat sailing to Spain. He had been just a petty thief in the past but now he worked with the army and for the queen. But once he saw the small piece of jewelry, he decided he had to have it. He took it without telling anyone and put it on his wrist to make sure he didn’t loose it. Carlos was so enthralled with it; he decided to add something so he put a hollow piece of gold in it. But that wasn’t good enough as, days after departing the coast, a fleet of English pirates assaulted the ship and stole the cargo before blowing the boat to the sky with their canons. The pirate that killed Carlos saw the bracelet in his wrist and decided to steal it.
When trading it back in Britain, he found a buyer. It was a merchant, a man that loved trinkets and silly things to make himself a nice collection. The man was an Italian called Domenico Girondelli and he was about to take a couple of his cousins to a trip to the far east, to get spices and other things there. Domenico also added a charm to the bracelet: a small coin with a hole through it. They had to go through all of Europe and then cross the Bosphorus disguised as Turks. But the Turks saw through their ruse and attempted to kill them. Just one of the men survived, and this was because he was a better runner and because he was saved by a group of women. He disguised himself as one and grabbed the bracelet from Domenico’s belongings.
Seeing he had nothing back in Italy or in the Ottoman Empire, he decided to leave the place and keep the charade of being a woman until he got to China. In the route, many men fell in love with him. To be fair, he had girly features and didn’t even grow a beard or a mustache. He was a skinny man and could pass for a woman very easily. Hard to reach and very shy, men loved that about him and also that only piece of jewelry that made her so special. Men in Samarkand and all over the desert gave him charms for his bracelets, adorned with many beautiful jewels and stones.
When he finally arrived into China, he realized he wasn’t a man anymore. He felt so sorry for himself, realizing he felt like a woman know, that he drowned himself on a lake by the imperial palace of Beijing. The police of the realm picked up his body after several days and took the bracelet to the Emperor who gave it to his wife. She was so caught up by it that she added two more charms: a jade ring and a small gold chain that rattled when she walked with the bracelet on. The piece found a home in the palace for many years, being passed on by the Empress to other women through generations until the Japanese invaded China. By then, the imperials had already disappeared but the bracelet was still kept in one of the many palaces, part of a collection worth millions. The Japanese didn’t take many things but one man that accompanied them in their task had an eye for all things of some worth.
His name was Carl Unger. He had been send to Japan by the new government in Germany and had wanted to be in China as they invaded the place. After all, his country knew how important Japan was for a future strategy in the region and he had accepted the post of consultant with the Japanese government. He would travel with the army, wherever they would go, and see what use he could make of cities, people and the objects he saw on his way. It was him who found the small chest where the bracelet was being kept and took it as a prize. No one said anything but everyone saw him taking the bounty to his chambers, a whole room he had taken for himself in one of the palaces.
There, Carl would look at the piece for hours. He found it fascinating because he realized it wasn’t a local piece. The snake and the charms… Everything was so different and unique. But precisely that was the beautiful thing about the piece, that it was a sum of many parts and that it seemed to reflect a beauty he would never see again. Some days later, he was summoned back to Tokyo, so he took everything with him. There, he lived alone and spent his days between work and his treasure. He was becoming obsessed, almost to a clearly sick level with the pieces.
That lasted for years until the people at the embassy revealed to him that war had started. Central command in Berlin was giving him the option of staying in Japan or going back to Germany to help with the war effort. He decided to go back, in order to visit his mother and to give her the bracelet. He realized it was the best thing to do. So he packed what he had and headed for Berlin. The city was glorious, as he had never seen it before, and the army was making progress all over. He visited his mother and gave the bracelet.
He would never see the piece again. Carl died after being sent to fight in northern France. His mother, a good soul, had given the bracelet to his housekeeper in order for her to sell it and escape the country. The woman was a Jew and, as she escaped, she added a new charm: a ring. But she wasn’t successful in her attempt to leave Germany and was captured by Nazis. The woman was sent to a concentration camp where the bracelet was lost in the sewers for many years.
It was found by an American soldier who took it as a token to give to his girlfriend, who was waiting for him to go back home. He travelled to France with the army and there he boarded a boat to the United States. He added a small rock he had found in the camp, piercing through it with a torch a fellow soldier had lent him. But the war was not over and a German submarine fired on the boat, killing everyone on board. The bodies floated on the water as well as their belonging and it was a seagull who found the bracelet floating softly just below the water. The bird grabbed it and fled the site with it. And that’s how the bracelet got to Svalbard.
The storm poured many gallons of rain on the rock but the nest stood still and the next morning the fisherman came for the bracelet. He had a large rod that he used to grab the nest and the bracelet for his wife, who had always wanted a nice piece of jewelry. She added her wedding ring as a charm and held it close until her death. But as we all know, that wouldn’t be the end of story.