University of Alabama College Ring Lost for Almost 20 YEARS…Recovered from Pond in Somerville, AL!
Bama fans, you’ll be very proud of this ring recovery!
I received an email from Joel on October 6th, 2019 asking for my help with finding his ring. Joel explained that several years prior he was tossing a decoy duck into a pond on his family’s property, when his ring slipped off his finger and landed in the water. This wasn’t just any ring; this was a University of Alabama college ring that Joel had purchased in 1993 to commemorate him earning his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) Degree! Based on current conditions at the time, Joel wasn’t sure if he should pursue his master’s degree, but decided to push through anyway and persevere. You can only imagine how much sentimental value this ring held to not only Joel, but the rest of his family as well. They were devastated by the loss! Additionally, Joel told me that ArtCarved had made his class ring and it had a stadium style design, which they no longer make. Based on all these factors, I knew I had to find his ring!
The pond was on their property in Somerville Alabama, therefore private, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone else trying to find the ring. Joel and his wife, Melody, knew the general area of where it landed in the pond, but they just couldn’t get to it due to the water. Joel had initially purchased a metal detector, wrapped it in a garbage bag, and tried to find the ring, but to no avail. He searched on Google every few years or so for a metal detecting service, until he eventually discovered The Ring Finders directory.
Attempt #1. We arranged for me to come out the following Sunday, October 13th, 2019 to conduct a search. The water was about 3-5 feet deep. However, the two main factors I had going against me were the mud/sludge on the bottom and the temperature. The sludge was about a foot deep, and the weather had just turned cooler about a week prior. Armed with my AT Pro and long handled sand scoop, I conducted a wading type grid search for as long as I could in the cold water. I had a wetsuit on, but I could only manage to search for about 1.5 hours before I had to call it. It was difficult to effectively pull a scoop of that deep mud, as it acted as almost a suction. I was able to dig a few signals, which were the usual pulls tabs, foil, and other trash targets. I told Joel that I would be back out in the summertime when the water was warm. I apologized to him, because he would have to wait an additional 9-10 months for the next search attempt.
Attempt #2. We scheduled the next search for Sunday, August 2nd, 2020. Unfortunately, Alabama was having an unseasonably rainy summer. The pond was deeper than it was in October. My husband, Lindell, and I searched for about 2 hours, but had to call it due to the depth of the water.
Attempt #3. The third time’s the charm! This search was scheduled for Sunday, August 16th, 2020. Lindell and I had planned to obtain our Open Water SCUBA dive certifications this year, but that got pushed back until next year due to a surgery I needed. We had completed the basic dive certification on our honeymoon in 2010. So, we decided to buy a hookah dive system made by HookaMax. This is a surface supplied air compressor that always you to dive with a regulator and dive hose to a max depth of about 20-30 feet. We also constructed a PVC grid that would sink to the bottom, so that we could keep a tight gridline. Huge shoutout to my good Ring Finder buddies, Brian Rudolph from Washington D.C., and Jeff Morgan from Seattle!!! Brian helped us with the purchase of the hookah system and Jeff helped with the construction of our PVC grid (grid system was passed on by Ring Finder, John Volek from Houston).
Armed with new capabilities to overcome the depth, temperature, and sludge; Lindell and I went out to Somerville! We decided it was best that only I conduct a search, so that Lindell could monitor the situation topside. I had my Equinox 800 with the 15” coil to cover maximum depth and area. I conducted another wade type grid search, but was able to dive down with the hookah system to check targets with my pin pointer. It was near zero visibility, but I could easily feel for the target with my gloved hand and pin pointer. After about 2-3 hours of searching and only finding trash targets, I asked Joel to tell me again the general area of loss. I went back over that area even though I had already covered it. But as we know, if you miss it by an inch then you miss it by a mile! After a few gridlines and checking some targets, I check another. I have the item in hand under the water and started feeling the shape of a class ring. With my non-gloved hand, I could feel the smoothness of the band. I quickly shook off the muck and saw that glimmer of a crimson/red stone! It was Joel’s 10k yellow gold UA ring!!! What a beautiful sight! We had found it after almost 20 years of it sitting at the bottom of this pond! Such a great feeling! It was getting later in the day, so I was relieved that we were able to pull it this time! The ring wasn’t too deep for the detector to pick it up!
I surface with a big old smile and yell with excitement, “we got it”!!! I walk it over to Joel and open-up my fist to reveal what he’s been waiting so long to see. This was one incredible looking ring!!! There was absolutely no tarnish or corrosion on it. It looked the same as the day it went in the pond! Both Joel and his mother-in-law were so grateful and in shock! It’s hard to put their reaction into words. The ring was now back on Joel’s finger where it belongs! As always, I thanked the Lord for a safe and successful recovery! Huge thanks to Lindell for assisting me with these searches!
I’m coming up on my 2-year anniversary with The Ring Finders. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, hear their stories, and help them find what may have been lost forever! What a blessing it has been! I give all glory to God and pray that I’m able to continue His work and help many more!
If you or someone you know has lost a ring, jewelry, or other metal item, please contact a member of The Ring Finders.