WAYNE, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey woman received an early Christmas gift. A ring that belonged to her mother was returned by a stranger after being missing for over five decades.

“One Sunday morning, someone called and said Joyce, I have your mom’s ring and I want you to have it,” Joyce Wharton told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.

Wharton proudly showed off her mother’s ring with five diamonds.

The ring had been missing for over half a century. The family heirloom was found in the dense woods of Washington state, where her parents’ private plane crashed in 1959, killing both of them.

“The ring, it was a brand new set that my father had gotten her just before their 24th wedding anniversary. She was so thrilled to get it,” Wharton said, “that’s why it is so precious to me because the last time I saw her she had shown it to me and we had ooed and awed.”

Logger Nick Buchanan found the ring in 1997. He was aware of the tragic crash, but didn’t know the couple had a daughter. A nephew helped him find Wharton through ancestory.com.

“I’ve always thought it would be really something to find living members of the family, especially a daughter because I would love to turn that over to a daughter,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan mailed the ring to Wharton after talking to her on the phone.

“When I saw the ring and put it on my finger it was like touching out to my mom again. It was absolutely wonderful,” Wharton said.

Wharton said the story behind the ring is about the integrity of the man who found it, and that he knew it had to get to its rightful owner. She said she has thanked Buchanan many times and plans on meeting him and his wife in person.

The ring will be passed down to Wharton’s daughter.

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