Mark Rubinstein would have been delighted to lay eyes on a snake; instead he spotted gold. While participating in a Florida Burmese python hunt last February, Rubinstein was deep in the swamps of the Everglades when he noticed an unusual glint half-buried in the dirt along a levee. Upon closer investigation, he discovered a penny-sized gold medallion, adorned with sapphires and diamonds. It was mysteriously melted along one edge. Now, evidence suggests that the pendant may have belonged to a passenger on 1972’s Eastern Flight 401 or 1996’s ValuJet Flight 592, both of which crashed in the same area near Rubinstein’s hunting grounds in Florida’s remote wetlands southwest of Boca Raton.
Rather than choosing to immediately sell gold Boca Raton certainly would be interested in, Rubinstein’s first act upon arriving back home was to clean the mud-caked piece. He expected it to break down in the jewelry solution; instead, its luster increased. The process also revealed intricate detailing and a clear cross pattern that had been obscured by years of dirt and debris. Hoping to return the pendant to the family of its rightful owner, Rubinstein contacted Florida Gold Coast Gem & Mineral Society, which used an online jewelers’ forum to shed light on the mystery. Several specialists jumped in to help, piecing together that the Celtic medallion likely belonged to a passenger on the ValuJet because of the rise in popularity of that style of jewelry during the 1990s, as well as concluding that it was made over 200 years ago out of 18- or 22-karat gold, due to its vibrant color, even where it had burned: while diamonds and sapphires can sustain anything, a lesser quality gold would not have survived the time and the trauma.
Others looking to sell gold in Boca Raton can make out much better with their goods than the lost and found pendant, which is anticipated to bring in $150 for the gold itself, and little to nothing for the stones in the current market. Still, Rubinstein’s dedicated search continues to find the pendant’s owner, for whom the heirloom may well be priceless. If that person never turns up, Rubinstein will donate the piece to a museum, or–due to its religious significance–to the Archdiocese of Miami. In any case, after years of resting in the Everglades, the piece will finally find a home.
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