Victorian ring returned to original owner’s family after decades, following chance encounter

 (Courtesy Gemma Albrow / SWNS)
(Courtesy Gemma Albrow / SWNS)

A Victorian ring was returned to the original owner's family after decades - following a chance encounter on Facebook.

Gemma Albrow, 41, found the silver ring 34 years ago - which she decided to keep it safe as it had a mysterious name on.

And, while scrolling social media at New Year, she noticed someone with the same surname - and decided to message.

Amazingly it was a family match - and the heirloom has now been returned.

Mum-of-two Gemma, from Seaford, East Sussex, said: "I'm overjoyed! I never in a million years thought I'd find them. It was such a shock when I saw the name on a Facebook post I was just scrolling through. It’s incredible for me that it’s going home and they will cherish it as I did."

Gemma found the ring in 1989 while searching through two tubs of scrap silver and gold at her parents' jewellery shop. It is inscribed with the name Vincent Walter Hand, and their birth and death dates.

The dates show that Vincent sadly died just months after Walter - and aged only two.

Gemma said: "Eight-year-old me just thought it was too sad to let it be melted down - it meant something to somebody. It really struck me that it would have been such a heartbreak for a woman to lose a child so young.

A Victorian ring was returned the original owner’s family after decades - following a chance encounter on Facebook (SWNS)
A Victorian ring was returned the original owner’s family after decades - following a chance encounter on Facebook (SWNS)

“It’s a Victorian memorial ring. On the outside it says, ‘In memory of’ - and there’s a dark spot where my mum thinks there was a sapphire. I just felt like I was it’s guardian. I always knew I’d love for it to go back. I always hoped to know who it belonged to.

"And I thought it was so sad that whoever she was had lost these too people so close together and one of them so young."

Gemma then forgot about the ring for decades. But, after finding it again, she did some digging on ancestry.com in October 2022, when she found the ring belonged to a lady called Hannah Hand.

Gemma was then scrolling through Facebook when she saw the name Hand in a group about her hometown, Leek in Staffordshire. She contacted the post's author, Darren Gerrard, and discovered he was married to Susan Gerrard - the great-great-granddaughter of Hannah Hand.

All parties made contact and the ring was then returned.

Gemma said: "I'm so happy I've reunited them. I 100 per cent believe that these things really do happen for a reason."

Susan said: "It was such a wonderful surprise when Gemma contacted us asking if the family Darren posted about was the same as those named on the ring.

"She sent it to me in a pretty little presentation box and bag with a lovely message. I didn't even know the ring existed.

"What a star Gemma is. She was worried that the ring would have no sentimental value to the person she returned it to but I have reassured her that as long as it is my possession it will never be sold.”

SWNS