by Dina Kupfer

MODESTO (CBS13) — A class ring, presumably lost forever, was found and returned after more than three decades.

When Gary Curiel graduated from Ceres High School in 1989, he did it without his class ring on his finger.

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“I had lost it probably a week or two after I got it. Much to my mom’s displeasure,” Gary said. “To my knowledge, I lost it in a bathroom in the Vintage Fair Mall.”

He assumed it was gone forever, but little did he know, a Modesto city bus driver named Joe Rodriguez found the ring in that bathroom and gave it to his wife for safekeeping.

Lorena Rodriguez-Daniel’s mother Carmen held onto that ring for 31 years.

“I would have been six years old when my dad found the ring,” she said.

Carmen would seek out the owner from time to time, going to Ceres High School to see what she could piece together, but she never had any luck.

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“She literally kept in in like this little bag in her jewelry box and it’s been untouched,” Lorena said.

But over the weekend, while looking through old photos and memorabilia, the ladies got to talking about that long-lost ring.

“The stuff that’s on the ring, the initials, and what it looks like, I said, with today’s technology we can totally find him. And, I’ll be completely honest, I think I just got obsessed after that. I literally spent like 24 hours looking for Gary! I was running his name his initials, everything,” she said.

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Lorena did some digging and found Gary on Facebook. She reached out via messenger.

“She asked me to describe it. I described it to the best of my memory. Close enough to exact so that she knew that I was telling the truth,” Gary said.

Once he described the ring, Lorena sent him a picture. “And I got ‘wow.’ That was his response. ‘wow!'” she said.

Gary, who now lives in Elk Grove, drove to the Rodriguez family’s home in Modesto for the meet-up.

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“We got there and I met them outside, they were on their side of the gate, so we were a safe distance away from them,” he said. “She had it in a box and it looked brand new, I mean like it had never been touched.”

It was a big moment for Carmen, Lorena’s mom.

“I just had to stand back and let me mom have her moment. I mean my heart was elated! My mother was — I can’t even put into words how much joy she had in her heart to give that ring back,” Lorena said.

With this ring, and with a little help from technology, these two families are forever connected.

“They’re basically the heroes, you know, I just got something that I lost. They found it and kept it for over 30 years,” Gary said.

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Gary says the ring is too small, so he gave it to his son who is graduating from high school next week. The company that sold Gary the ring reached out to the family and said it has a lifetime guarantee and he can get the ring re-sized any time he wants.