By Justin Schecker. CREATED Feb 13, 2014
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Among the glitzy and glamorous gems, minerals and diamonds on display at the 60th Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is one exhibit that is tied to a very dark day in American history.
A traditional Jewish wine glass made in Germany in 1609 is just one of Ronnie Koppel's family heirlooms showcased this weekend at the Tucson Convention Center.
It is where Koppel, a New Yorker, used to keep his gold and valuables that has a historical significance.
"Chase Manhattan had the classic vault down on the Trade Center with 3-foot thick doors and big wheel, etc.," Koppel said.
After the hijacked planes destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011, Koppel thought his collection was lost and so did the bank.
"There was someone that had a collection of JFK negatives there and I believe they put a lot of pressure on Chase to make some additional efforts to recover this," Koppel said.
Eventually the bank had cranes lowered into the rubble and crews retrieved Koppel's safe.
He shipped it for inspection to Wayne Leicht in Laguna, California. Leicht, a regular at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, is the vendor who sold Koppel many of his gold pieces.
"The safe deposit boxes did survive, although they were charred," Leicht said. "But the gold didn't melt surprisingly. Didn't quite get to a thousand degrees centigrade, which is what you need to melt gold."
"That's what I think is most interesting for the general public, their linkage to a horrific and historical event," Koppel said.
If you'd like to check out the gold survives 9/11 exhibit, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is open to the public until Sunday. Doors open daily at 10 a.m.