By Lori Kurtzman The Columbus Dispatch Thursday June 21, 2012 9:24 AM
A Blacklick couple got into an argument one night last month. Cooler heads did not prevail.
It might have felt satisfying, what the man did, but it proved to be a bad decision because, once you chuck your fiancee’s engagement ring into the pitch black of your backyard, chances are you’re not getting it back.
Unless you know Jon Baughman — or any of the other Ring Finders.
They’re a worldwide collective of metal-detector enthusiasts who claim more than 430 successful recoveries of rings lost to wild gestures, extreme gardening and lovers’ quarrels.
“I guess that happens quite a bit,” said Baughman, a Licking County Ring Finder, recalling the email he got from the woman asking him to find her ring in a patch of thick weeds and water. Her fiance had launched it in that direction.
Baughman is 27, a father of two with a third on the way in Washington Township, near Utica. Right now, the former Army National Guardsman is looking for work, so he figured he’d try to make some cash from the hobby his wife’s grandfather introduced him to years ago.
A few months ago, he came across the Ring Finders website, which was started by a Canadian man who seems to enjoy nothing more than reuniting people with their jewelry. The site is full of success stories, emotional tales of lost rings. In one story, a finder salvages a clumsy proposal by digging up the ring a brain surgeon buried in the beach sand and promptly lost.
Baughman added his name to the directory in February.
He charges $25 to respond to a call. He figures that’s enough for gas and a Gatorade. He’s more interested in helping than making money. He asks for a reward only if he actually finds the ring.
The ring in Blacklick initially eluded him. He had the fiance throw test rings, trying to re-create the mood of that night, seeing where the diamond might have landed. But after three hours of searching, he lost the sunlight and found nothing.
He came back another day and worked quickly, already familiar with the area. Within 15 minutes, there it was — a shiny little declaration of love.
He texted a photo of the ring to the fiancee. She was elated.For perhaps obvious reasons, the woman asked not to be identified in this story, but she said she and her fiance are getting along much better now. They plan to marry by the end of summer.
Baughman doesn’t get sentimental about such things. He’s a detective, not a therapist.
“The main thing is being satisfied that you did find the ring,” Baughman said. “And next time they throw it, they’ve already got your number there to call.”