Kelly Winters was driving one of the 10 vehicles tangled in a fiery crash on South Carolina’s I-26 recently. And while Winters was hailed as a hero for pulling a trapped truck driver to safety, his own vehicle and a very precious package in the trunk were lost in the inferno. Or so he thought.
Winters had planned to surprise his wife, Sherry, with a freshly resized re-engagement ring — a pretty three-stone motif, featuring three blue gemstones each surrounded by a halo of white diamonds.
But, before Winters could deliver the surprise, his car and its contents were consumed by the raging fire.
"I thought the ring was lost for sure,” Winters told WIS-TV. “I mean, everything else was gone. The car was just melted into the asphalt. It was terrible."
A day after the crash, Winters learned the startling news that his Geico insurance adjusters had gone to the impound lot where his vehicle was towed, sifted through the ashes of the trunk and extracted a badly charred jewelry box containing his wife’s ring.
Sherry could hardly believe that her ring emerged from the disaster with hardly a scratch.
“It's amazing that out of everything in the vehicle, the only thing that survived was the ring," she said.
The couple told WIS-TV that the ring looks as good as it ever has.
Scientifically, there’s a good reason why a gold and gemstone ring can survive a house or vehicle fire. According to the National Institute of Fire and Safety Training, house fires typically burn at 1,100 °F and car fires burn at upwards of 1,500 °F.
Jewelry can come out of a burning vehicle unscathed because the melting point of 14-karat white gold, for example, is 1,825 °F and the ignition point of a diamond is somewhere between 1,520 °F and 1,652 °F.
It’s not clear whether the Winters’ blue gemstones are diamonds or sapphires. If they are sapphires, they would have been able to withstand a temperature of 3,686 °F.
Images: Screen captures via wistv.com.