Walker Metalsmiths helps Python Hunters seek heir to Lost Treasure - Gem Studded Medallion Is Likely From Plane Crash

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Python hunters find a partially melted gold medallion set with antique rose cut diamonds and sapphires in the debris field of two fatal plane crashes. They search for answers and the rightful heir.

Celtic cross

Gold medallion found by Mark Rubenstein while hunting pythons in the Everglades

I would like (strongly) to get it back to the rightful heirs. It would be some really good karma for all involved, or to put it simply, the right thing to do

Three friends didn’t bag any snakes during the 2013 Python Challenge, but they did make a startling find. While searching the Everglades for invasive Burmese Pythons Mark Rubinstein spotted a jeweled gold cross set with antique rose cut diamonds and sapphires. The condition of the piece and the location of the find strongly suggest that the antique medallion came to rest in the swamp as the result of a fatal plane crash. Rubinstein has now shifted gears in his quest from looking for serpents to trying to locate a surviving relative he can return the jewel to.

A coworker of Rubinstein's, Mike Spurlock, pointed out that when he made his discovery, Rubinstein, along with fellow snake hunters Joseph Post and Gregg Jobes, were in an area that turns out to have been about 300 yards east of the Valujet crash site (May 11 1996) and in the debris field area of the Eastern Flight 401 (December 29 1972). In each of these tragedies over a hundred lives were lost. An edge of the circular medallion is melted, which would be consistent with the scenario of either of these crashes. The object is a circular medallion the size of a penny that was most probably meant to be worn as a pendant. This is uncertain since the loop or bail that it might have been used to attach it to a chain is apparently melted into a glob of metal. Because of it's age, quality and symbolism it is easy to imagine this would have been a treasured possession. Returning such a keepsake to a family member after such a tragedy has become the new quest for these adventurers.

To begin his search for the owner, Rubinstein contacted Carroll's Jewelers of Ft. Lauderdale . Owner Bob Moorman confirmed that the piece is indeed high karat gold and handmade. The eight diamonds are “rose cut”, a style of polishing that was common in the 17th to 19th centuries. The design would indicate that there were originally thirteen sapphires arranged in a cross pattern. Donald Dietz of the Florida Goldcoast Gem and Mineral Society then posted photos of the piece were on a prominent jeweler’s online forum, the Ganoksin Project, where various comments were made about the apparent religious and ethnic nature of the design.

A cross within a circle is often recognized as a “Celtic” cross. Celtic jewelry expert Stephen Walker of Walker Metalsmiths in Andover, NY noted that the diamond studded border looks very much like the Celtic Tree of Life symbol, but the overall style and design was not consistent with any Celtic jewelers known to him. The style might just as likely be Byzantine. Apparent symbols between the arms of the cross suggest abstract versions of Greek letters, but nothing obvious. Walker also noted that many pieces of modern Celtic jewelry are deliberately made to have an antique look, so the older style of stone cutting could possibly have been chosen by a more recent jeweler to give the piece an antique look.

A photo of the cross and the story posted on Walker Metalsmiths' Facebook page has "gone viral".

Rubinstein has also contacted the Archdiocese of Miami where he hopes that an expert in religious jewelry might steer him towards clues that might help him narrow down the possibilities from the hundreds of passengers. His goal, he says, “is to find a little out about it. If it is from one of the two crashes, I would like (strongly) to get it back to the rightful heirs. It would be some really good karma for all involved, or to put it simply, the right thing to do”.

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