— -- A California woman who lost a class ring nearly 30 years ago recently got it back, thanks to another woman who found the ring on a beach and spent decades searching for its owner.
Merrilea East graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1986 and worked at a 7-Eleven to earn enough money to buy the ring. She lost her "treasured" class ring only about a year later.
“I just kind of wrote it off because I didn’t even remember where I lost it,” she said. “I worked really hard for this ring and was really heartbroken.”
Around the same time, Angela Vinci found a ring in the sand at Laguna's Main Beach in Southern California, where she was working as a surf photographer. She said she called the high school occasionally over the years, but claims she was told each time there was no information on the ring's owner.
“The second that I saw the engraving on the ring, I said, 'I am never going to give up until I find this person,'” Vinci said.
She recently came across the ring again in a box of old possessions, and decided to resume her search. This time, she was able to discover that the woman whose name was engraved in the ring now went by the married name of Merrilea East. After unsuccessfully reaching out to Merrilea East on Facebook, Vinci said, she tried asking other Facebook members named East. One, Samantha East, told Vinci she knew the ring's owner.
“She said, ‘Oh my God, that’s my stepmother.’” Vinci said.
East reportedly texted Vinci right away.
"I said, 'Hi, this is Merrilea, I guess you have my ring," East told ABC's Los Angeles station KABC. "She right away sent me a picture of the ring. It just flooded memories back. Oh, my ring!"
East said she got the ring back Monday night, and KABC caught the two finally meeting on video and sharing a hug.
“I’m actually wearing it right now,” East told ABC News today. “It’s amazing it really is. It doesn’t quite fit on the same finger.
“I’m quite touched by Angela and what she did,” she added.
Vinci said she was happy to finally return the ring -- but there are other feelings, too.
“I am really glad that I gave it back to her but I miss it -- I miss the ring,” she said. “I look at the ring and it takes me back to that day at Main Beach and it makes me reminisce about all of my friends that I would spend time with at Laguna during those times.”