Over the years, we've written many stories about precious keepsakes that have been lost, and then found. Often, these seemingly miraculous finds were made possible by the members of The Ring Finders Directory, a group of metal-detector enthusiasts that collectively boasts 2,245 recoveries worth more than $4.3 million since 2009.
Dedicated to recovering fine jewelry at little or no charge, The Ring Finders Directory has members in 22 countries, with the bulk of participants in the U.S. and Canada. The Ring Finders website lists 269 members covering 399 cities in the U.S. and 34 finders covering 49 cities in Canada. Members work on a reward basis and ask only for a guarantee of gas money.
The group got a big boost when The New Yorker magazine profiled a Ring Finders member for its January 21 online edition. Writer Tyler J. Kelley traveled with metal-detector enthusiast Keith Willie on his mission to recover a platinum wedding ring that was lost by a Connecticut homeowner.
The man, Jim Flynn, had been in his backyard stuffing hay into a black trash bag when he could sense something didn't feel right. His wedding band was gone and his four-year wedding anniversary was only days away.
"That was a sickening feeling,” he told The New Yorker. “My father had the same ring his whole life. I’d hate to be the person who got a second one.”
Flynn, his wife and their toddler searched the area on their hands and knees to find the ring. When that strategy failed, Flynn decided to call a local member of The Ring Finders.
Armed with a heavy-duty spade, an XP Deus metal detector and a White's Bullseye II pin-pointer, the 28-year-old Willie searched the yard, walking back and forth in straight lines while swinging the detector in overlapping arcs.
Even though the newly sodded area had been wild with trees only months before, Willie started to get some hits on the detector. First, he found a scrap of metal, then a pull-tab from a soda can, a bottle cap, a smashed bullet, an antique shotgun shell, a 1957 penny and a 1946 dime.
After three hours of trying, Willie could find no ring. “If I don’t find it, it’s because it’s not there,” Wille told the reporter.
While Willie came up empty, Ring Finders founder Chris Turner reported a network-wide success rate of about 80%. He said the bulk of requests are for assistance in recovering rings, keys and cell phones. Objects have been pulled from parks, lakes, beaches, yards and snowdrifts.
Turner noted he's been helping people find their valuables for the past 21 years. He created Ring Finders to share his passion and widen the coverage internationally.
"Since I can't be everywhere with my metal detector, I'm hoping to have other metal detector specialists that enjoy metal detecting and helping others as much as I do, help people in their town or city," he wrote.
In the video below, Turner helps a young woman from Burnaby, British Columbia, who has lost a diamond wedding band in her backyard. She tried to get her dog back into its pen by tossing a ball. As she threw the ball, her ring went flying, as well. Turner gives the viewer a first-hand account of how he hunts for lost jewelry...
Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.