When Mark Rubinstein slogged through the swamps of the Everglades, looking for snakes as part of the state's python hunting challenge in February, he stumbled upon another kind of prize.
"It was just a glint in the late day's sun," Rubinstein said. "It kind of just glinted at me. It looked like it didn't belong."
Turns out, it probably doesn't.
Rubinstein discovered the partially melted, antique gold pendant studded with diamonds and sapphires buried in the dirt near two plane crash sites: the ValuJet Flight 592 crash of 1996 and the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crash of 1972.
"When I talked to the other two guys I was out there with, we all kind of made the same expression which was like, 'We got to get this back to somebody and maybe we can bring a little happiness to somebody that's had some very bad sorrow,'" Rubinstein said.
Returning this mysterious medallion to its rightful heirs has become Mr. Rubinstein's new quest. After posting some pictures online, experts weighed in.
"A man drilled this by hand," said Robert Moorman, owner of Carroll's Jewelers in Fort Lauderdale. "There was no electricity then. Everything on this thing was made by hand."
The jeweler confirmed that the pendant is made of real gold and probably dates back to the 18th century.
Its estimated value on the market is about $150, but it's sentimental weight is much greater.
"This was probably specifically made for one person," Moorman said.
The three emblems on the pendant are religious, Moorman said. One is a cross, another is an 'M' for the Virgin Mary and the third, three leaves, stands for the Trinity.
Since the jewel has gained popularity online, Moorman has already made contact with a man who may know a surviving family member of a woman who owned the jewel that died in the ValuJet crash.
"It would hopefully help heal a wound or something," Rubinstein said. "It would be great and I would be honored to be a part of that if it's at all possible."
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