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San Diego Woman Finds Cherished High School Ring at East Coast Antique Shop Decades Later

The class ring turned up 32 years after it disappeared -- on the other side of the U.S.

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Maria Aviles treasured her years at Madison High School in San Diego's Clairemont community. Class of 1978. Home of the Warhawks.

Her high school ring -- a traditional-style ring with a bright, blue-colored stone -- was one of the tangible items she thought she'd always have to remember those special moments.

She loved the ring so much, she even asked her parents to engrave her name onto the inside: Maria Martinez, her name when she was in high school.

The ring was perfectly hers.

"I asked my parents, 'Can I put my name (in the ring)?' And they said, 'Absolutely.' And I'm glad I did," Aviles told NBC 7.

Maria Martinez Aviles' senior photo from Madison High School, class of 1978.

That's because her ring with the shiny blue stone disappeared in the summer of 1988.

"It was like, 'Oh, wow.' So I started looking -- searching, but I figured it was just stolen," she said.

She never did get it back -- but, for decades, she thought about the ring.

Maria Aviles' Madison High School ring was discovered in an antique store 3000 miles away. Here, Aviles finally gets to wear her ring with the blue stone again after not having it for the past 32 years.

But, recently, what seemed to be gone forever was suddenly found when Aviles' friend tagged her on a Madison High School alumni Facebook post showing a photo of a ring.

As soon as she looked at the photos, Aviles knew it was her ring.

And the post even noted the jewelry was engraved. The name inside the ring? Maria Martinez.

"I knew it was mine and I know that because the (Madison High) Warhawk on my ring was a little bit darker than my friend's, " said Aviles.

"I knew it was mine."

Maria Aviles, High School Ring owner

So, how did Aviles' ring end up on the other side of the country?

That part, Aviles' said, only the ring really knows.

"If this ring could talk -- you know, if I had a magic lamp right now, I'd ask the genie: 'Let the ring talk and tell me its adventure across these last 32 years, across the country," Aviles told NBC 7.

Somehow, Aviles' cherished ring ended up at the Strawberry Banke Antique and Vintage Shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire -- 32 years later, more than 3,000 miles away from San Diego, California.

The ring with the blue stone was bought by a man from Kittery Point, Maine -- right across the river -- who was looking for a gem to use to make a ring for himself.

He paid $20 for it.

"His birthday is in September so he wanted a blue stone out of it," Aviles said.

When the man looked more closely at the ring, he discovered it was a class ring from Madison High School in San Diego County.

He had also been a student at that very same high school, Aviles said.

"He noticed it was a high school ring that he went to and he went to Madison as well."

Maria Aviles, HIgh School ring owner

The whole thing was strange, Aviles said, but then again, what wasn't strange in 2020?

"I was thinking, 'Wow, anything is possible these days -- especially in 2020.' You know, it's amazing," Aviles said.

Maria Aviles' class ring found in a New Hampshire antique shop 32 years later

When the man who bought the ring saw the name engraved inside, he had a change of heart about using it only for the gem.

The man told his son about it. The man's son then posted photos of the class ring onto the Madison High School alumni Facebook page and, from there, Aviles was able to identify the jewelry as hers.

She contacted the family in Maine and the man sent the ring back to Aviles -- and just in time for the 2020 holidays.

Aviles' son, Juan Aviles Jr. -- who also went to Madison High School -- said the gesture from a stranger meant a lot to his family, especially during these challenging times.

"With everything that's been thrown at us, it's still nice to know that there's someone out there that could still do good things," he told NBC 7.

And since the ring arrived just before the holidays, the Aviles family found a special place for it: right on their Christmas tree, where they said it will hang every year from now on.

Aviles and her son said the return of the ring was a true miracle.

And now, as Juan Aviles Jr. said, the special piece of his mom's past is "home for the holidays" forever.

The Madison High School ring is hung on the Aviles' family Christmas tree
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