metal detecting in bay Tag | The Ring Finders

Lost 2 Carat Diamond Engagement Ring…Found in Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis, Maryland

  • from Washington (District of Columbia, United States)

Erin’s 14 Karat White Gold, 2 Carat Diamond with 2 Baguette Diamonds Engagement Ring



I believe in miracles. There is no question that what I experience and observe through metal detecting, gives me an idea of when the impossible becomes possible through abilities that I have acquired through experience, prayer and with the belief that something extraordinary can happen for someone who lost something so precious to them.


I had just scooped someone’s ring out of the Atlantic Ocean in Ocean City, Maryland when another call came through from a couple that was desperately seeking help in recovering a lost engagement ring from the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland. Erin and Josh were spending the day out at a public beach with their daughter when Erin realized that she had lost her precious ring.


Here is what their voicemail message said:


“Hi Brian, we saw THE RING FINDERS website and we just lost my wife’s engagement ring at (a beach) just about an hour ago right by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I don’t know if you think there’s any chance in finding it or if you have any availability in coming out here, but if you do, please call us. Thank you.”


I immediately got in touch with Josh who had just left the beach with his family. When I called, the couple was pretty upset to have to leave Erin’s engagement ring out in the Chesapeake Bay. They gave me the rundown of what happened earlier that afternoon. Erin had gone into the deeper part of the bay’s swimming area to wash her bathing suit free of sand. Because there were so many people, she wanted to go farther out to have some privacy. When she was done, she then walked towards the shore and got back onto the sand, and it was then that she realized that her 14 karat white gold, 2 carat diamond engagement ring with two beautiful baguette diamonds on either side was missing from her finger. She was in a state of panic, of course. They looked around and realized that the ring was gone. Their conclusion was that it must have fallen off when she was rinsing off in the deep area of the water. This ring was extremely sentimental, for not only was it the ring that she was proposed with, but it was a family heirloom on Josh’s side of the family that dated back to the 1940s.


Josh and Erin had no idea whether it could be recovered or not. Because of the search that I had just come from where I was able to pull a beautiful   engagement ring out of the Atlantic Ocean 40 yards out from shore, I was able to give a bit of encouragement to this couple who truly did not seem to have much hope other than the phone call they made to me to seek assistance. I was thrilled to take on this new challenge because I was still floating on a huge high from the ring that I had just found in the ocean. So, just imagine how excited I was to go on this new mission to recover Erin’s lost ring from the depths below!


I explained to the couple that I would not be able to get to their beach before it closed that evening. We would have to wait until the next morning (which was Sunday) before I could get myself in the Chesapeake Bay to start my search. I was approximately two hours and twenty minutes from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (which was near the beach where they were hanging out that afternoon). My plan was to leave Ocean City, Maryland sometime after nine or ten in the evening and then make a stop somewhere in between my travels to take a night rest and then resume my drive in the early morning hours. My goal was to get to the beach just as the park was opening. My primary concern was that other detectorists might stumble upon the ring before I could get on the sand or in the water.


Though the couple was pretty certain that Erin had lost the ring in the water, there still was a possibility that it was lost on the shore. I was not going to take a chance at getting to the beach any later than the moment that the gates opened at the state park.


I instructed the couple to give me an accurate layout of where they were on the beach and approximately where Erin was in the water when she rinsed off her bathing suit. Because they had already left the beach, they ended up returning to the spot where they were laying out and the two of them worked together to re-create where Erin had walked in the water. They took video and photos, marking off the location of where their beach blanket was and they counted how many feet over from the lifeguard chair they were settled with their belongings at the time of their family beach experience. Erin and Josh did a great job providing the necessary footage with their phone, taking plenty of pictures that were extremely helpful in orienting me when I arrived at the search site the next morning.


My time schedule to arrive at the beach early Sunday morning worked out perfectly. I was extremely prepared. There was no time to waste once I entered the park. I knew that if there were other metal detectorists waiting to get on the beach, I needed to make sure that my wetsuit was on, my gear was charged up and all of the rest of my search accessories were pre-assembled and packed. All of this was taken care of before the sun had even raised its head over the horizon.


As soon as I reached the parking lot nearest to the beach area, I noticed four other cars pulling in behind me and each one of the drivers started taking out metal detecting equipment to do their own personal searches for the morning. I realized that what I was concerned about regarding competition in the water (even though none of them knew that Erin’s beloved ring was lost somewhere out there), was completely justified and it confirmed that it was imperative that I needed to get there at that moment so that I could hopefully protect the location of where the couple believed they lost the engagement ring. I even called them up to give them the update as to what I was dealing with in regards to these other metal detectorists who were doing their treasure hunting for the day. They became just as concerned as I was, and I promised them that I would do all that I could to protect what was theirs and hopefully I would find the ring before anyone else did.


One positive thing in this search scenario was that the ring was presumably lost in deeper water, and my hope was that the other guys would not be scouting that section at the beginning of their hunt if we were able to stand in that section of the swimming area due to the high tide conditions. As soon as I brought all of my equipment onto the sand, I looked at the video and photos that were sent to me and I positioned myself right next to where the lifeguard chair was resting. I made sure that the other landmarks that were provided to me by Erin and Josh lined up with my current position and to my excitement everything was a perfect match! Nothing had changed from the time they shot their media the day before. I was then ready to begin my search.


While watching the other hunters take to the water and to the dry sand, I had to decide whether or not I would detect on land or in the water at first. Once I got in the bay and walked as close to one of the buoys as possible, I determined that it would be impossible for the others to find the ring in the deep section of the water due to the current tide height that morning. No one would be able to stand and search at the critical spot indicated to me by the couple at that time of day. Therefore, it was more important to protect the area where the family was sitting and walking around on the dry sand, just in case the ring fell off on shore and not in the water. There was one fellow who was gridding back and forth very close to where Josh and Erin’s belongings once rested, so it was my top priority to make sure that that section of the beach was searched before anyone else had a chance to stumble upon the ring.


Since I knew the exact location of where the couple’s blanket was once located, I was able to detect all of the metal around the most important spots on the sand, including over to where the bathrooms were located. There was a chance that the ring might have fallen off in the sand while Erin had walked to the restrooms. During this part of my search, I had to be very discreet about what I was doing without letting anyone know that my metal detecting hunt was not random. I did not want anyone to suspect that I was searching for a specific item that was lost somewhere out there on the beach.


After I was quite certain that the ring was not in the dry sand, I prepared my water detecting equipment and headed for the bay again. I looked out at the two buoys that were farthest to the left of the swimming area and so I knew where I would begin my grid search in the water, lining up with the parameters from left to right as to where Erin believed she had lost the ring the day before. I reviewed the couple’s video which showed Josh standing out in the water in the particular location of where Erin once stood when she believed the ring had fallen off. I observed the left buoy in relationship to where Erin was and I could see where the Bay Bridge towered over the water and I followed its position to where you could see it in the background on the video provided to me by the couple. I knew exactly where to look even though the tide would make it impossible for me to stand that far out on that particular morning.


The water current was extremely strong that morning. I was very surprised at how forceful it was in pushing me in a direction that I did not want to go. Every time I tried to plant my feet in a particular spot so that I could do my grid search, I was pushed farther away from my original search location and so I had to keep retracing my past steps over and over again.


I went out as far as I could to the approximate location of where Erin most likely lost her ring, but because of the high tide conditions I was not able to keep my neck above the waterline. Therefore, I had to move slightly closer to shore where my head was just outside of the water. This frustrated me because I wasn’t able to stand quite where I needed to be to conduct the search effectively. Another problem was that I was not able to view my detector screen and observe the various types of metals that I was picking up while I was in that deep part of the water because the detector was completely submerged underwater. I could only rely upon listening to various tones that would match the type of metal that I was looking for. I had my scoop in my left hand and my metal detector in my right. All of the other detectorists that were in the water were using floatable sifters so they could take all of the sediment that they scooped up and place it on their sifters to see if there was any treasure that they pulled up from the water. I did not have that luxury. So, I had to pull up the potential targets and check what was at the bottom of the scoop each time that I got something worth checking out. This process sometimes took quite a long time. Just being able to maneuver the scoop and place it in position to effectively get the targets in the scoop was a tremendous task in itself! It’s a completely different type of metal detecting than in the ocean. Though I was not dealing with waves continuously coming up on me, I would deal with more water depth than usual and a very fast current. The type of shells, stones and sediment at the bottom of the Bay was quite different than what the ocean provides. This made it much harder to position my equipment and find accuracy in my scoop attempts. It took me a good while to get used to the process and to learn what I was feeling with my water shoes and the positioning of the scoop and the metal detector coil below me.


While I was in the section where presumably the ring had been lost, two other metal detectorists were roaming the area very close to where I was, but far enough away that I didn’t think they would find the ring. They started grid searching back-and-forth, left to right, parallel with the beach shore and they were very methodical about their treasure hunting. I found out later that all five detectorists that were there that day all knew each other, but they hunted independently. They were all in black wetsuits and were well equipped with the same equipment that I was using (some of the finest equipment on the market). They looked militant in the way they were searching for treasure. I could tell they were all very familiar with this beach and were extremely experienced with their detecting methods. I sent pictures over to Josh and Erin showing my competition, just to keep them abreast of what I was up against that morning.


I searched as much territory as I possibly could, but only coins and other items ended up in my scoop from time to time – not the precious piece of jewelry that I came all the way out there to attempt to recover.


I thought that I had unlimited time to detect the water, but I found out from someone on the beach that he thought that there was a time limitation for metal detecting. I did not hear this information from park officials, nor was there anything online that indicated this restriction. So, this was a huge blow to me when I found out this information because I knew that unless I had domain over that section of the beach to continuously detect inch by inch, another detectorist would definitely find the ring at some point if I didn’t. I would need to be there at the site each and every moment that detectorists were allowed to be in the water. I didn’t know how many times I could keep up with everyone else because most of the detectorists who there were retired. I found out that all summer long they hunted every day during the week, so they had unlimited opportunities to pull valuable targets out of the water and from within the sand. This was a great disadvantage to me unless I could keep up with them each morning that the park opened. I lived an hour from there and so it would be nearly impossible for me to make those trips every morning until one of us found the ring. Also, I was not at a place where I felt comfortable sharing the information with the other detectorists about the search for the missing ring because I did not know what type of integrity these people had if they were given such information. Would they pocket the ring or would they return it back to the rightful owners? Many of the hunters that I meet generally believe that the finder becomes the keeper even if they are aware that the rightful owner is looking for that particular item. I didn’t know these gentlemen or what they might end up doing if they found the ring, so I was not about to give my cards away at this point in the game. I realized that this search could continue for a very long time. There was no way to know whether or not someone else had found it, and if so, whether or not they would be willing to give it back. There was no telling how long this search could go on for if I didn’t find the ring sooner than later. It would require many trips to the beach and there was no telling how many of these trips would be necessary to take before finding it or learning of its discovery. It was a bit overwhelming when I thought about it.


I was searching approximately 20 yards out from the shore. If the ring was not located in the search zone that Erin specified, the search area would increase to approximately 30 yards across from left to right between the two buoys. This would make it six hundred square yards in total if the entire area between the left and right buoys had to be searched. Yes, indeed it would be a serious undertaking if I did not find the ring close to the location where the couple believed the ring had originally fallen off Erin’s finger.


After three hours of searching, the ring did not turn up. I did everything I could that morning to recover the jewel, but to no avail. Instead of checking on the accuracy of the hunt restrictions, I decided it was best to leave when everyone else started heading for their cars and I planned for my next attempt sometime later that afternoon. I did not know at the time what the restrictions were for hunting in the afternoons on weekends, so I innocently planned my schedule around returning back to the beach later that day.


I knew that the water would be crowded with people later in the day, and the odds of me finding it with so many people in the water would be very tough, but I was going to give it my all and do everything I could to recover this ring before someone else did. I packed up all of my gear and watched some of the other detectorists do the same and we all headed out to the parking lot. All I hoped for was that no one else would be in the water with a metal detector between the time I would leave the bay and the time that I would return in the afternoon.


Before I left the beach, I looked back onto the surf one more time. I wondered where the ring had actually rested. Was it where I couldn’t reach it because of the high tide? Was it somewhere else in the water or on the sand where I may have missed it? Or, was it in somebody else’s pocket already? All of these things I pondered on and wondered if it was still possible to pull this most precious piece of jewelry out of the bay and bring endless smiles and relief to Erin and Josh. I held on to the hope that it was still there and that I would reach it first before anyone else.


I gave Erin and Josh a call and filled them in on my search efforts thus far and then gave them the game plan for my return later in the afternoon. Though they were disappointed that the ring was not recovered yet, they were hopeful that my second attempt would bring very good news.


That Sunday afternoon was extremely hot outside. I remember the bottoms of my feet were scorching hot, even though I was wearing flip-flops. When I returned to the park later that afternoon, there was almost no parking available because it was so busy that weekend. Everybody was vacationing and partying on the beach and in the grassy areas where there were many barbecues for people to enjoy cooking and hanging out. I didn’t care what obstacles were put in my way while trying to retrieve this ring. I had one goal in mind and one goal only and that was to get that ring back to Erin as fast as I could. I wasn’t going to allow the far away parking space, the heat, the quantity of people or the level of difficulty while searching in the water affect my determination to find this ring.


I unloaded a cart, strapped my metal detector to it along with beach towels, cooler and other items that I needed on the sand and headed for the surf.


Because I was parked to the farthest side of the vast parking lot, it took me forever to get over to the beach and then move my way to where I was searching earlier that morning. It was simply packed. People were scattered everywhere. You could barely walk on the beach without having to maneuver yourself around somebody else. Also, there was very little space to walk in the water without bumping into somebody. I knew that this operation would not be easy, knowing that so many people were playing and hanging out in the water. But, it was the best that I could do with my situation in trying to find the missing ring. I did not want to lose one opportunity to try to pull that ring from the water.


Just as I finished putting on my sunscreen and organizing all of my gear for the water search, the lifeguard’s whistle could be heard and everyone had to come out of the water due to a very strong current that was causing some people to drift out beyond the buoys where people were supposed to stop swimming. I was delayed another 20 minutes or so before I could go into the water with everyone else.


It wasn’t easy blending in with everyone because I was wearing waterproof headphones while detecting potential targets. Children were the most inquisitive and wondered what I was looking for. Others asked what I was doing and there were some that just stared at me but left me to my personal endeavors. It was so hot outside that I sometimes would just dunk under the water to cool off my head. I was pulling up coins and lead weights and miscellaneous jewelry but the one item that I was in search of recovering was nowhere in my scoop. It was kind of a free-for-all for me being in the water with everyone because I was not able to effectively grid search from left to right or up and back. I was just hoping that my detector would hit the ring’s signal in the general area of where Erin and Josh pointed me in the direction of searching. One of the biggest reasons why I came in the afternoon was because this was during low tide and it gave me the best shot at reaching the area that I still needed to search.


My scoop was picking up all kinds of things but just not what I wanted the most. Hour after hour went by and I still had not discovered the missing ring. I hoped that somewhere in this body of water was a white gold engagement band holding an enormous 2-carat diamond with two baguette diamonds on either side of the magnificent stone. “Where could this ring be?” I asked. “If it was lost in the water, it’s got to be here somewhere because I am the only one to metal detect in the deeper area since Erin lost the ring in the bay at low tide the day before.” Though I could not grid search with so many people in the water, I thought I was pretty thorough at hitting the primary spots where the ring came to rest. Yet, it was nowhere to be found.


After nearly three and a half hours of searching, the lifeguard blew her whistle once again and signaled everybody in the water and on the sand to start packing things up because the park was closing soon. In all of that time, I never got out of the water so as not to bring attention to all of my detecting gear. I didn’t want to alert people as to what I was looking for so I kept myself in the bay the whole time. I packed my things up and started heading towards the parking lot. I so desperately wanted to stay in the bay and continue my search but it was time for me to go. This did not deter me, but just tested my patience and I was not going to let it get the best of me. I needed to get this ring back for Erin and nothing was going to stop me except circumstances that I could not control. I knew I was using all of the right techniques and I knew exactly the settings that my detector needed to be adjusted to in order for me to find the white gold engagement ring. I was not missing one single opportunity to scout the waters that were between the two buoys where the couple believed the ring had been lost. As I walked a very long distance back to my car, I once again determined in my mind that I would continue to roll up my sleeves and head back to the search site the next morning and continue metal detecting the area with the hope that I could find the ring before anyone else did.


Once I got to the car and loaded everything back inside, I called Josh and Erin and gave them my latest update. I stayed extremely positive and I encouraged Erin to hang in there, to stay positive, not lose hope and to keep praying! I wanted to see a miracle, and little did I know just how big of a miracle I would witness the following day.


My alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. Monday morning. I will not forget how I felt as I woke up from a deep sleep and how my body was making it so clear that it did not want to get out of bed. My mind was completely in partnership with my body in that it was trying to give me every possible reason why I should pull the covers over my head and continue to sleep for a few more hours. However, the only thing that got me out of bed and took me into the bathroom to wash up and prepare for the day was the feeling of compassion I had for Erin and Josh. I knew that if I didn’t try to find the ring at the same time that the other detectorists were out there in the water, it would most likely end up in the wrong scoop and Erin would never wear that ring ever again. I was convinced of it. That is what solely drove me out of bed, and nothing else. I could not bear the thought of hearing the news from one of the treasure hunters that Erin’s ring had been pulled from the bay when I indeed had the opportunity to continue my search and possibly be the one that could hand this ring back to her. I truly did not want it to end up in the hands of someone that would never give it back. I pushed myself out of the house and into the car and headed through the night an hour’s distance to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge where the state park was located. I was on my way to the beach, once again, to find Erin’s ring.


I remember how beautiful the morning was. It was completely dark outside, but there was such a summer calm in the air. Once I arrived at the state park entrance, I had to wait for the guards to open the front gate at 6 a.m. Again, all of the other metal detectorists were there, ready to do their morning hunts out in the water. The moment that I parked my car, I pulled my equipment out just as I had done twice before, and headed straight for the surf. By checking the tide chart prior to arrival, I already knew that it would be difficult to get into the deep area nearest to where Erin had presumably lost her ring. So I decided to start a grid search from left to right in the deepest sections of the water closest to the vicinity of where the ring most likely ended up but obviously I couldn’t go as far out to where she was at the time of the loss because of how deep it was at that time of day. I wanted to protect that area from being detected by someone else. Even if I couldn’t find the ring, I thought, at least I was able to secure the zone where the ring rested at the bottom of the bay.


Two other treasure hunters were searching between the two buoys that I was moving back and forth between, but I didn’t think much about it or was concerned for the most part, because they were hunting in sections where the ring could not possibly be, and they had no idea that there was a two carat diamond ring lost farther out from where they were looking for potential targets. I was only concerned if they traveled farther out into the deep, closer to where I was searching. After maybe 20 minutes or so, the guys moved in a different direction away from where I was and I had that property of water all to myself for the time being. Though I had no positive signals up to that point, in a matter of minutes I would be convinced that a true miracle had taken place!


I may have searched for over 30 minutes or so in the deeper parts of that section of water, but not far enough out to where I felt that I covered the hot zone of where Erin thought she cleaned out her bathing suit full of sand when she lost the ring. I would have to wait until Thursday before that area would have low tide in the early morning hours. Even though there was no logic in what I was about ready to do, I decided to grid the entire section of water from left to right between the two buoys starting at the shoreline and working my way out until I could no longer stand in the deepest parts of the bay. There was nothing more I could do because the water was too deep where I truly wanted to search due to the high tide.


I may have crossed back-and-forth in my grid search approximately four times. Each pass was maybe 30 yards or more across on each grid line and I probably pulled up a handful of potential targets such as coins and other unimportant jewelry, but no ring landed in the scoop. Then, on the fourth pass or so, only approximately 15 feet or so out from the shoreline, almost to the farthest point on the right side of the section that I was gridding (which was completely towards the opposite side of where Erin believed her ring was lost), I got a signal that matched a white gold ring. It was a bit choppy in sound and strength, but I was used to that when hunting for 14 karat white gold engagement rings. It was about four to six inches beneath the sand and stones below. I didn’t think that this target had any chance of being Erin’s ring, but I wasn’t going to pass it up, just in case it was some other piece of jewelry to recover. After a few attempts to get the piece of metal in my scoop, I finally concluded that I caught the object when my detector no longer picked up the signal in the area that I was searching below. It was time to check out what it was that I had brought up. With my right hand, I moved my fingers through the sand, stones and silt that was sitting at the bottom of the scoop and to my greatest amazement, my eyes locked in on one of the most beautiful diamond rings I had ever seen! I will never forget that moment! This was a treasure hunter’s dream to find something as beautiful as what I was staring at! At first, I had completely concluded that the ring that I had pulled from the water could not have possibly been Erin’s engagement ring because this band was found all of the way over on the right side of that section of the swimming area, nearest to the right buoy and much farther in towards the shoreline. It was nowhere near where the couple shot the video and described where the ring could have fallen off! Not even close! However, as I studied the precious characteristics of this amazing find, I remembered the insurance information that Erin had sent to me, and the illustrations of the ring that she was looking for matched up perfectly with this discovery! I found Erin’s ring! I couldn’t believe it! In my opinion, it was undoubtedly a miracle because the couple could not recall ever being on the far right section of where I found the ring, and certainly not so far in towards shore! Not even a strong current could have pushed the ring so far over to that location. In fact, the current was headed north, not south towards the right area where the right buoy was anchored, and the water had definitely not pushed its way in the direction of the shoreline in the past two days! In addition to all of that, the fine little stones and sediment at the bottom of the bay would have kept the ring from being batted so far over by the feet of countless swimmers! In fact, someone would have stepped on the ring and it would have been pushed farther down below the sand and stones, unable to travel anywhere! Also, the bottom of the water would have caused way too much resistance for the ring to slide that far over. It was impossible! All of the other detectorists that were present that morning agreed with me 100%! The two hunters that were detecting directly over the area where I found the ring and who were both using the same machine that I was searching with were so surprised at my recovery because they swore to me that they would not have missed that signal! They were so perplexed about it that later in the parking lot, the two of them asked me if they could swing their detectors over the ring because they wondered if their detectors were not functioning or that their machines were not set-up correctly! However, after the tests were done, their detectors picked up the ring’s signal perfectly as the ring laid on the concrete out by our cars! I believe that there was divine intervention that caused this ring to end up in my scoop and no one else’s sifting devices, all for the sole purpose of being able to return this ring to its proper owner! This 1940’s vintage white gold, 2 plus carat diamond ring was finally found and recovered from the Chesapeake Bay! When I say I couldn’t believe it, I really could not believe what I had found! I don’t care what people think or say when I comment about this being an absolute miracle! I know this ring did not get kicked by all of those swimmers from one side of that section to the other, approximately 30 yards from the left side over to the right. There’s just no way!


The moment that I realized it was Erin’s ring, I couldn’t contain myself! I shouted my excitement out loud, not believing what I had found! I started thanking God all over the place! Just the thought of being able to return this to the young lady just took my breath away! I could not wait to reveal the ring to Erin and Josh! I recounted that morning, reluctantly getting out of bed at such an early hour, and as tired as I was, I pushed myself to go and search once again for the missing ring knowing that it would most likely fall into the hands of the wrong person if I didn’t try to make more attempts in the water! And now I was looking at the fruit of my persistence! It brought so much gratification to my spirit, knowing that I did the right thing and that the results proved to be successful with the recovery of this most precious jewel! I kept shouting with excitement over and over again! The whole moment was so surreal! It truly was a miracle due to the location of where this ring ended up! I would never have searched in that section unless I had expended all other possibilities! Yet, because of how high the water level was that day, I was forced to search elsewhere and as a result, I found the ring! The other hunters were star struck at my discovery and each one of them admitted how incredible it would have been to have found that ring! I was beyond elated! There was such a sense of victory and of relief knowing that the engagement ring was going to be returned to the rightful owner! Erin and Josh would end up being the happiest people on earth at the moment that the ring would be returned once again to Erin’s finger!


Before leaving the beach, I took a walk around and stared out onto the water and looked below me where my feet were planted in the sand and I just thanked God over and over again for this recovery! Nothing could make me happier than to successfully recover this ring and to return it to Erin! When the time came for me to exit the park, I packed up my gear and looked out onto the bay one more time with such unbelief as to how this ring ended up all the way over to the right section of that part of the water and I just smiled. I was and will always be convinced that this was indeed, a true miracle!


Revealing the ring to Erin was so much fun! If you would like to know how I shared the great news with Erin and Josh, and the reaction that followed, feel free to subscribe to my YouTube video channel to see all of the latest and previous ring recoveries. This story and more will be posted over the next couple of months and you will be notified when it’s uploaded to the video channel!