It all started one day with a call from Mrs. N of an adjoining state. She had found The Ring Finders online and was requesting a search for a lost ring. This was no ordinary ring, besides the ring being a custom design, there was great sentimental as well as intrinsic value. The story all began with mother passing the ring to daughter on the balcony of a twenty story beach front condominuim. As things are to happen in life, the ring slipped and fell to the sand below. With only a few hours of precious daylight left, the family conducted a fairly thoughtful search. First, management was approached to help and all available lower balconies were searched to be sure the ring didn’t get blown by the wind back onto a balcony. No luck there. Then, a search underneath the balcony stack was conducted. Nothing. Staying an extra day the search continued but unsucessfully. A couple of weeks later I received the call. As with all searches I carefully discussed the circumstances. Luckily another family member drew an excellent diagram of the general area to be searched.
Within a week I was making the 3 1/2 hour drive to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. As luck would have it, I was never to set foot near the beach! And what I originally thought would take maybe an hour or two to find the ring turned into an odyssy of the toughest search I have ever conducted that spanned two days, 14 hours of drive time and 11 1/2 hours of actual search time. First after checking in with the front desk, I was impressed by the size of the condo as it is one of the largest on the coast. Each unit that faced the ocean had a balcony. Standing under the building staring up at 20 stories of a stack of balconies is truly dizzying for a Florida boy. The actual rooms began on the second story with an open area under the building. Facing away from the building towards the sea within 100 feet is a tall sand dune that shielded the view of the sea from ground level. And joy of joys scattered amongst the sand are those prickly devils in Florida that I grew up calling stickers. They were matured so that the barbs were very sharp and prone to go right through clothing. After lining up my search area I began to realize almost everything a professional detectorist can encounter as an obstacle was there. Probably the family and perhaps the management after searching the area pushed the ring deeper. That made sure that a casual observer wouldn’t find it.
As I really got into the search I was finding a very trashy area that I called the drop zone. As you can imagine anyone on a vacation tossing a pull tab off a balcony just to see it fall a long ways, well coins too. Then there were hair pins, foil wrappers (gold foil that every time I uncovered one in the sunlight it looked promising), pieces of electrical copper wire and then there were the stickers. In checking the under building area I soon discovered there was a concrete foundation pad covered with anywhere from 0 inches of sand all the way to 12 inches. Of course buried in the pad was rebar, iron bars used to strengthen the concrete. I set the detector settings as well as I could for the iron interference but I was never confident of my detector’s results. My backup was a PI so that was out altogether. After a few hours of following my grid search I decided to change my approach and just clean and area of about 150 feet by 100 feet of every possible signal. Still after some more hours of search and no success, this was the first time ever I didn’t want to find coins, it was getting dark. Totally flustrated and sore, I walked back to my vehicle to relay the bad news to Mrs. N and her daughter. I really felt bad because in talking to the family and sending emails back and forth these were just plain good people, folks you would want for neighbors. We talked for a while and I said that I am not a quitter and thought another try would be worth it. I am withholding the value of the ring but believe me, it was well worth another try.
Within the week, I rested up and one evening wrote up what I saw and experienced in an attempt to logically determine the next search activities. First, I would bring a sand rake to carefully examine the sand under the building and not worry about the rebar interference. Next, I would use a gold detector set to no disc to hunt specifically for that ring signal. Arriving early on the second search I checked the under building areas directly under the client’s rental and then checked each adjoining stacks. After a couple of hours nothing. Then back to the drop zone. Since I had cleaned the area so well before, there was only three more coins to find but that gold detector on all metal really was helping me find somethin new, paper clips! What I haven’t mentioned before was that the area in the drop zone was full of paint chips. Apparently the structure had been cleaned and repainted. The chips were of lead paint and the first time out I was almost sure that the lead had masked the ring’s signal. So after about an hour or so following the grid pattern I came to the edge of the pattern and got a good signal. I was using a plastic scoop to avoid damaging the ring. I filled an entire scoop down to about 10 inches or so and in the bottom of the hole was the large solitary diamond peaking up through the sand. I picked it up and just stood there looking at this gorgeous ring of a large, very clear princess cut with row after row of smaller but just as clear diamonds on either side. I used to sell jewelry and this was one of the best pieces I have ever held. The sun shining off of those diamonds was simply blinding. I didn’t shout out as some would think, I was just relieved and thankful that this will be a success. Carefully I wrapped the ring and placed in a zippered compartment. I then called and talked to Mrs. N’s daughter. Yes, she was happy, oh maybe a bit more than that. After we talked briefly, she would call her mom and then we would get back together on arrangements to overnight the ring. Well mom did what any mom would do, cry for joy. And I met the nicest and generous folks.
Being a ringfinder is a special bond. Our word is our bond. We will never stop until there is no hope left, no matter how difficult the search. I am available to search a variety of locations including shallow water for lost items of value. I am also available under contract to conduct forensic, estate and archeological searches.