Newark man searches for treasures
Baughman uses metal detecting to reunite people with lost jewelry
NEWARK — Jon Baughman could be considered a modern-day treasure hunter.
But he isn’t in it for fame or fortune. He’s most interested in reuniting people with lost jewelry that is important to them.
For several years, Baughman has spent his spare time using metal detectors and other gear to search for rings in Licking and Franklin counties.
“They are a person’s most precious item, especially when they are passed down from generation to generation,” he said.
“I enjoy giving peoples’ lost treasures back to them.”
A Utica resident, Baughman was inspired to learn about metal detecting from his wife’s grandfather, Ed Collins, and his father-in-law, Jim Jolliff.
Whenever the three men get together, they enjoy going out to parks with their metal detectors and seeing what they find. Baughman has also participated in several seeded hunts, where participants compete to see who can find the most items buried in the ground.
When he discovered the website, theringfinders.com, Baughman found a way to turn his interest into a business.
Theringfinders.com is a large database of metal detecting specialists so clients around the country can search for a ring finder in their area.
“The main thing is they are willing to help you out,” he said.
He joined the site in February 2012. Last year he got about 20 calls. So far this year he’s gotten six.
A calibration tech at Abbott Laboratories, Baughman keeps his gear in his truck so he can respond to a call as soon as possible. He travels with several metal detectors, including one that’s hand held, shovels, and scoops to search in sand and water.
Although he doesn’t search for lost jewelry in people’s homes, he’ll search any outdoor space, including beaches, parks, lakes and yards.
When customers call, Baughman tries to get as much information about the ring or piece of jewelry as possible. He needs to know where they lost it and how long it has been missing.
If it’s in a public place, such as a parking lot or a park, he has to move quickly. If it’s on private property, he has to get permission to search the area.
When he’s searching for a ring he uses his metal detectors, putting small flags into the ground behind him so he knows were he’s been.
If the jewelry is buried, he has to dig for it, using his hand held detector.
“I’m there to help them and search everywhere I can,” he said. “I keep talking to them and get some more details and some new (information) pops up.”
Baughman works on a reward basis but charges a $30 call out fee to every customer to cover his travel expenses. If he finds the ring, it’s up to the client to decide how much he gets as a reward, he said.
Some of his customers have thrown their rings after a fight with their fiance or spouse. Others have lost it swimming or had it fall out of their pocket.
One woman called him to help her find her husband’s wedding band, which fell off his finger when he was pulling leaves off a rake. She was thrilled when he was able to find it.
He also was able to help a man in Gahanna who lost his ring playing football with his sons and a woman in Mount Sterling who lost two rings in a barn.
Although he’s had many successful finds, there have also been times he couldn’t find the ring.
Some have sunk to the bottom of the lake and others have been picked up by someone else. But he never gives up the search until the customer tells him its over.
“At least they have closure,” he said. “When you have something that’s lost, you want to know if it’s there or not.”
While he’s hunting, Baughman often comes across lots of metal objects, from cans and pop tabs to horseshoes and bottle caps. He picks up what he finds and stores it in a bucket in his garage.
“I was in Scouting, and we leave it better than how you find it, so I always pick it up,” he said.
When it comes to ring hunting, it’s important to be patient and thorough, Baughman said.
“Practice is the biggest thing and knowing your equipment,” he said. “There is a lot of detective work.”
His favorite moment is being able to tell someone he’s found their ring.
Once he returned a class ring to a woman who hadn’t seen it in 29 years. She was so happy she cried.
“You always get that rush when you find one,” he said. “I always get a big smile on my face because I know I made them happy.”
October 07, 2013
About this series
“Aces of Trades” is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs — whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-328-8821.
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For more info about Jon Baughman, call 740-334-7293 or go to theringfinders.com/Jon.Baughman/#us-oh-newark