Tom Caldie, Author at The Ring Finders

125-year-old Engagement Ring recovered in Sturgeon Bay

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)
I had great success recovering a lost heirloom engagement ring last Friday in Sturgeon Bay. Its owner, Gena, had given it and her wedding band to her father while she went tubing. Somehow, it flew out of his pocket somewhere between the boat, the launch, and his house, though the wedding band was still there. She put a notice in “Door County Lost” on Facebook, and someone saw it and contacted me about it. That put the search in motion.
I interviewed everyone, and traced the likely loss point back to when the most hand movement occurred, which was probably the yard. (I didn’t want to jump in the water at the launch without checking the yard, first, because launches are full of lost metal of every kind: keys, cans, phones, sunglasses, boat parts, lures, coins, pop tabs, and other junk, which necessitates a lot of scooping and sorting.)
Gena’s father had cut the grass, so I was running my Minelab Equinox stock coil over the clippings before they were discarded. They were spreading the 3rd load over the driveway to make it easier, which was taking a while, so I decided to sweep the grass along the road, in front of where the boat was parked while I waited. Gena made it easier by passing her wedding band under the coil so I could choose which program . of the eight would work the best. After only a few minutes, the ring sang out! I couldn’t believe how pretty it was – a 125-year-old vintage cut diamond discontinued in 1945! I shouted out “we’re done,” and then the hugs and celebrations began! What was lost, was found!
of .d!

Sapphire Ring recovered in Wisconsin Lake

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

A few weeks ago, I traveled with Jeff Wettstein to a lake near Fremont to search jointly for a lost ring set. (Jeff and I are both ringfinders for Northeast Wisconsin.) Luckily, third time was a charm. We had the husband in a kayak directing us where to put the grid and dive, so we ended up a little further out. Also, I used my old Fisher 1280, which is quite sensitive. I had done some repairs on the handle, so it was ready. The last time, I was under 8-10 feet of water for two 3-hour sessions. This time, I was under for only 2 1/2 hours, and finally teased out a signal. The ring had settled on hardpan, which was underneath three layers: a seaweed carpet about four inches thick, over about four inches of silt, then about six inches of sand. My detector shaft kept getting caught up in weeds, so I had to use my arm as the shaft and hand sweep the coil underneath the weed layer in the silt, which kicked up in a cloud creating zero visibility and going by sound and feel. And, there was this big largemouth bass that kept playing with the coil like a cat after a toy. That was funny and made me laugh in my air regulator! (I didn’t know I could laugh underwater.) Finally, success! My fingertips felt the two-ring set among some pebbles on the hardpan! We had searched for 19 1/2 hours total.

Lost Platinum Wedding Band recovered in Fremont area lake

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

On August 14th, fellow Ringfinder Jeff Wettstein informed me that he was scheduled to referee three soccer games, so he needed me to help out on a recovery.  We frequently back each other up when we have other commitments, since we are the only two water detectorists/divers in the Green Bay and Fox Valley region.

The groom, Mike, told me he had been swimming at a rental cottage and noticed his ring was missing at the end of the day.   Some days had passed, and he had returned home, so we had to request permission from the property owner and the new renters to access the property.  Permission was granted, and Mike and I hunted  together,  figuring two searchers would increase our odds.    Mike used my Fisher 1280, and found some clad coins, and I used my Garrett AT Pro, an older but reliable model, and we swept the swimming area many times.  After 2 1/2 hours, I

found it!  Mike was grinning from ear-to-ear!  I love this hobby!

Precious Wedding Band Recovered from the bay of Green Bay

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

Last June, I received a frantic request from Rob, a visitor from Los Angeles, California, who had just lost his wedding band.    He was renting a vacation home near Red Banks, was tossing one of his nephews off the dock into about 4 feet of water, and his wedding band splashed into the drink!   Unfortunately, Rob’s wife had passed away only three months previously, and the ring was inscribed with a message of love from her.   It was important to recover it!   Rob asked me how long it would take, and I replied “About two minutes.”   I knew this because I knew the bay sediments very well from years of experience, my Garrett AT Pro could easily discriminate out iron.  Besides, Rob was a professional roofer and had pulled a nail finder over the area many times, pretty much cleaning it out ahead of time for me!   I hopped off the dock in my wet suit, and had the ring back on his finger in less than two minutes!   Whew!  I’m not always that bold in my predictions.      Rob thanked me profusely, and insisted I share a beer and watch the sunset with his family, though the real glow was coming from his smile.   

14k Gold Wedding Band recovered in Waupaca County

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

Kevin was making memories, tossing his kids off the swimming raft into the lake when a unwelcome memory intervened – his wedding band also decided to take a plunge.   The bottom was 12 – 15 down with limited visibility.   Luckily, Jeff Wettstein was available with his hookah technology.     Tom Caldie was the aquanaut, and he recovered the ring perched on top of some invasive milfoil plants after almost two hours of gently sweeping over the top.  Lucky for that, as deep silt was under the plants, and the ring could have been dislodged and sunk down too deep for recovery.  It took a light touch to detect a signal without losing the ring forever, but it was well worth the effort.     This is why they call this the “Book of Smiles!”

Lost wedding band recovered in Door County lake

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

June 27th,  I was called up to a Door County cottage to find a ring that was lost the previous weekend. It was next to the dock on the “fishing” end of the lake, which means muck and weeds! It took me 90 minutes of probing with a small coil on the Minelab Equinox 800 and a Vibraprobe, but after being misled by a few really old beer cans that were opened with a can opener and a few bottle caps and pop tabs, I finally teased it out of 18″ of muck. I also looked at the far end of the dock for a gold watch that was lost years ago, but the silt was shoulder deep, so all I got was a beauty treatment, if that is what muck in your hair does. The water felt good, though. It was nice to get Chris’s 14k gold wedding band back on his finger where it belongs.

Engagement Ring Recovered using Hookah Gear near Wautoma, WI

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

Wrinkled fingers, but nice ring!

On August 15th, 2019, Jeff Wettstein received a call regarding a lost engagement ring off the end of a dock in central Wisconsin.    Having just purchased and tested a new hookah arrangement with three 60-foot hoses, we were soon on our way to try recovering the valuable ring.    It was a cold week, but we had multiple layers of neoprene ready to wear.     It’s not wise to dive alone, so we used the buddy system.    My turn was first with Jeff serving as top tender.   I was having so much fun playing with the blue gills, I didn’t realize I was under water for two hours!     After sorting through a lot of junk and weeds, I found the ring and popped to the surface.     We didn’t get a photo of the bride because she was in contact with us by phone, but you can see it was a valuable recovery.   She was quite happy.

Art-carved 14k wedding band recovered from Two Rivers beach

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

Art-carved beauty!

On Sunday, September 28, 2019, I received a call from a young couple who had lost a valuable ring at the bottom of a stairway leading to the beach in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.    Normally, the stairway ended in sand, but Lake Michigan levels had recently risen to historic highs, so the bottom steps were algae-covered and slippery.    The bride slipped and her hand flew up, sending both a diamond engagement ring and her wedding band into the lake.   Luckily, the waves were low and her husband saw the engagement ring and quickly retrieved it.   But, this was the day before, and they finished their trip to Milwaukee and then doubled back the next day and contacted me.   Meanwhile, the waves had started up and were from 12-18 inches high.      Using my Minelab 800, then my AT Pro, I found a few signals, but rocks forced me to feel around with my fingers while waves periodically splashed into my waders.   I persevered, wet and shivering, and felt the ring just as it turned pitch dark.     It was beautiful!   Spontaneous hugs all around!     They didn’t want their picture taken, but did allow one of the ring.   I can see why they were so happy to get it back.  Truly a piece of art!

Key West Wedding Band Recovery

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)


While on a metal detecting vacation to Key West, FL on  December 14th,  Jeff Wettstein, another ringfinder, and I were detecting Smather’s Beach, which is quite long.    I had found one 14k gold wedding band, but only a few coins after that, and it was getting late.   Suddenly a man rushed up to me and asked if we could find his tungsten wedding band that had just slipped off of his finger in about 4 feet of ocean water.   It was almost dark, but I started searching near where he and his friend had been swimming.     After about 30 minutes of intense grid searching, Jeff came along and helped.  He found it in about 5 minutes, and soon it was back on the groom’s finger where it belonged.   Drinks at Sloppy Joe’s followed, of course!

Wedding ring recovered at Washington Island, Door County

  • from Green Bay (Wisconsin, United States)

On June 18th I was contacted by a group of vacationing friends who were very concerned about a lost wedding ring.   They saw it fly off Jen’s finger into the lake while they were paddle boarding.  Needless to say, they were on pins and needles worrying about it.   It was 90-mile drive, plus a ferry ride to the island, but I finally arrived the next morning.  They rigged me up with a paddle board, which I had never ridden before, but I managed to maneuver it a few hundred yards out to the location and hopped in.   Luckily, it was a tiny bay sheltered from the wind, so the water wasn’t too cold, and it was only about chest-deep.     I located the ring’s signal within two minutes, but my first scoop didn’t cut through the roots on the bottom, where it had wedged.    Luckily, bearing down hard did the trick and I had the ring back on Jen’s finger in no time.  She was one happy camper!    It’s easy to see why – the ring is beautiful and irreplaceable.