A Florida man hunting pythons in the Everglades found something arguably much cooler than a Burmese python, a 24-karat gold jewel inlaid with rose-cut diamonds. Mark Rubenstein found the piece of jewelry back in February and has been showing it to different jewelers in an attempt to determine its origins.
Estimates from local experts, as well as the Florida Goldcoast Gem and Mineral Society have placed the date of manufacture somewhere between the 17th and 19th centuries. Stephen Walker, a New York jeweler, believes that the Celtic cross design points to more recent origins. "A lot of Celtic jewelry is made to look a lot older," he said.
Rubenstein believes that the jewel is most likely a remnant from one of two plane crashes in the area, Eastern Flight 401, which crashed in the Everglades in 1972, and a 1996 ValuJet crash that occurred just hundreds of yards away from where the jewel was found. Hundreds of people died in both crashes.
While the jewel could fetch Rubenstein upwards of $1,000, he’s determined to return the piece to its rightful heirs. “When I brought this up to my friends we all had the same reaction,” he wrote. ‘We agreed in concert that it would be very good karma to get this piece ‘home.’” If no heir can be found, Rubenstein plans to donate the jewel to the Archdiocese of Miami.