Northland Jewellery Recoveries Tag | The Ring Finders

Tearful Loss of Wedding Ring at Ruakaka, Tearful Reunion When Found

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

A very tearful Laura phoned – she had just watched her wedding ring vanish into the sand beneath her feet while in the sea at Ruakaka.

Her husband immediately grabbed the pink swimming goggles off the indignant daughter and he spent a long time searching for it until he was, as Laura described, « mildly hypothermic ».

I had recently returned a lost ring for Jax, Laura’s mother in law, and Jax recommended that Laura contact me immediately.

Which she did.

In the busiest summer season yet, I had literally only just returned from another ocean recovery 150km away near Whangarei and was exhausted. However, the emotion and desperation on the other end of the phone was very real – So I grabbed a strong coffee, some food, and threw the wet gear back in the car and made the two hour drive south.

I knew this part of the beach is metal detected every night at this time of year, and I was determined that this ring wouldn’t become part of someone’s collection.

On arrival the family met me, and Laura took me down to the beach and indicated the corridor where she thought the ring lay.

Fortunately, after a few days of strong offshore winds the surf was uncharacteristically very small for this coast. This was partially offset though by the corridor being right in the middle of the narrow surf lifesaving patrolled area, so lots of people to work around…

I did a quick scoping search, however this yielded nothing and ultimately I had to resort to my proven techniques to ensure every square inch was covered.

The beach was relatively trash-free, so the interruptions to the background threshold tones were few, and quickly dismissed.

Line by line I slowly closed off the indicated area, and I was starting to pre-plan the next search phase.

Suddenly a bold, gold tone in the headphones – The scoop came up out of the water and I rinsed the sand away.

There was Laura’s gold wedding ring.

I held it up to Laura, sitting on the beach, and she let loose with whoops and yells – closely followed by the rest of the beach!
They had by now all heard the story about this strange person zig-zagging around in the waves and had become invested in what I refer to as « The Worlds Most Boring Spectator Sport ».

After the excitement subsided, the handshakes and hugs done, I parked the car in the shade and slept solidly for a few hours before the drive home.

It’s Not all Gold. Lawn cleared of Nails…

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

As I was waiting for the tide to fall at Ngunguru for a recovery, I was browsing the local social media.
Angie had just posted asking for someone with a detector to find and remove nails from her lawn in the area around an old bonfire site.

I had time to kill, so I got in touch.

Fifteen minutes after her post, I handed Angie my spare pinpointer, and after a very quick rundown on how to use it, we were both on hands and knees sweeping pinpointers across the bonfire site.

Initially targets were constant, but after about 30 minutes the signals faded away.

Time to get the coil out and check.

We had achieved about a 90% hit rate with just the pinpointers, and with the coil I identified the residuals.
Angie and I progressively removed these until the site was confirmed entirely clean.

There were suggestions on social media to use magnets, however these would not have released the bulk of the nails which were entrapped in the soil.

The specific equipment and expertise of a ringfinder ensured a 100% removal of ALL nails from her lawn.



Lost Ring on 90 Mile Beach, NZ. Found!

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

90 Mile Beach (Te-Oneroa-a-Tōhē) in the north of New Zealand is a vast, flat, featureless strip of sand. Open to the Tasman Sea, the surf is generally large and relentless.
Layers of titanomagnetite (iron sand) cause issues with most metal detectors, and there is a definite art to being able to hear through the constant background chatter and identify your target.

Especially when you’re searching for a gold ring lost a week prior, with big surf moving tonnes of sand on every tide…

Wain had been playing with his daughter on a bodyboard in the waves when the ring slipped off his finger.
He glimpsed it sitting on the sand momentarily, before a wave buffeted him and he lost sight of it. Efforts to refind it were in vain, it had already sunk into the sand.

The ring had been passed down from his late father, so was of huge sentimental value. Fortunately, the family had done everything right to maximise their chances of getting the ring back.
Wain had taken several bearings by lining up features on land and on the rocks nearby. His wife had used her phone to obtain a GPS pinned location and they had contacted an experienced Ring Finder as soon as possible.

I left straight from work and met Wain and family at Ahipara at dead low tide.
With the contour being so flat, the tide retreats a long way which exposed the area of loss. It also comes back in pretty quickly too.
I had a couple of hours before the water returned and covered the search area.

I had two start points, Wains old-school triangulation using transit bearings and the GPS location.

A quick search around each estimated position revealed nothing, so I started the search in earnest.

Wain mentioned that the sand seemed higher against the rocks which didn’t bode well, so with the detector settings opened right up to maximum for a deep target I commenced the grid. The headset twittering and chattering incessantly with the iron sand interference.

The grid slowly spiralled away from their marks in the sand, a few possible targets were dug, mostly ancient nails from shipping pallets used in beach bonfires. Someones long lost stainless steel ring gave the heart a kick, but at least I knew I was getting the depth I needed.

The grid got larger and larger and the family drifted away leaving Wain sitting on a nearby rock. From his body language I could sense his hope fading.

I decided to reorientate, and move further towards the rocks. Assume nothing, Check everything, Believe No-one.

Almost immediately I heard something in amongst the background noise. Deep and messy signal, but definitely a solid target in the ironsand.

The scoop powered its way through the different coloured layers of sand.
I waved the coil over the last scoopful lying on the beach beside the adjacent crater. I knew from the signal this was it.
Tapping the clumps of sand with my foot to break them up, the yellow edge of a ring flashed in the late afternoon sun.

Wains face broke into a huge smile when he saw me hold it up. The relief and emotion was certainly evident and the ring immediately went back on his finger.

As we walked back, the incoming tide started to erase my grid in the sand…

Engagement and Wedding Ring lost in Sea at Russell, NZ – Ring Finder Saves the Day

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

Jan phoned me last night, quite distressed.
She had just been swimming off the beach at Russell when her wedding ring slipped off her finger.
She momentarily glimpsed it on the gravelly seabed and did a ‘duck-dive’ to grab it.  Her gold and diamond engagement also slipped off – Disaster!

Repeated attempts to grab either ring were fruitless and she came ashore, leaving her treasured and sentimental rings out in the Bay.

Dejected, she made her way to Butterfish Restaurant for a drink to calm down, when one of the bar staff mentioned my service.  She called and asked, « Could I help? »

Of course.

Now, Russell beach is a very steep and mobile beach. The bulk of it is made up of pea-sized gravels which move with each wave.  This highly mobile, almost fluid gravel beach ‘Eats’ rings!

I arranged to meet Jan first thing the following morning to catch the next tide.

Early start next morning and I arrived to see Jan ready to meet me.
I had calculated the tidal heights and knew that I would be getting wet, but I cleared the exposed beach first – Assume Nothing, Believe No-one, Check Everything.

As expected, no rings were found and I moved out into the water, my feet sinking over the ankles in the soft gravels – I’ve been here before… It’s never an easy recovery.

I did about three or four passes along the beach, getting deeper and deeper.

A whisper in the headphones caught my attention. This wasn’t another fleck of copper, or one of the many thousands of can pull tabs or bottle caps that infest this beach. The whisper said, « dig me… »

The hole refilled as soon as the scoop came out, missed it! Next time I sent the scoop deep, easily 40cm down and cut it back under the target. Heaving several kilos of gravel out ensured I had it.

After much sifting, a gold ring slowly emerged out of the gravel! I held it up to Jan, her face lit up and she started walking down the beach.

Now for number two.
I knew it was nearby, and how deep in the gravel it would be. In a few seconds I had located and captured it.

Both rings accounted for, I waded ashore.
Job done.

Opal Necklace and Ring Both Found in Surf at Taupo Bay

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

While on holiday at Taupo Bay, Kelsie did what so many do – she threaded her ring onto her necklace for safekeeping.
Wading back in in through the surf, she undid the clasp to put the ring on her finger, and promptly dropped everything; The opal ring, the opal pendant and the chain.

The water was shallow, but the wash instantly claimed all three and in one swirl of water they slid into the sand and out of sight. Lost.
Her friend put a post on the local community noticeboard the next day asking for help and several locals suggested that she contact me.

I went out straight after work, large swells were forecast and time was of the essence on this active surf beach.

The surf was already building rapidly, occasional 2-3m breakers offshore were producing a powerful surge running up and onto the beach.
Some locals set up a line of beach chairs and settled in to watch what I refer to as « The worlds most boring spectator sport ».
A couple of minutes into the search a powerful surge came in, instantly wrapping a large ball of seaweed around the detector shaft and, before I could react – snapped the metal shaft!

Fortunately I also had my other water machine in the car, although the smaller coil would mean more swings and with the iron sand present it would be unlikely to locate the fine chain. The ring and pendant were the critical pieces though.

I started the grid, focusing on the water first. Closing off this search area, I then moved inshore where the wash had now subsided and more beach had been exposed.
Before long, a silver and opal ring was extracted from about 15cm down in amongst the iron sand.
I had a solid start point, and in quick order an opal pendant followed.

Now to try for the chain…

I would be on the back foot looking for a delicate chain in these conditions, so with the machine wound right open I started to conduct an intensive grid in the area. Regrettably, I was unable to hear the chain in the chatter from the iron sand.

The two important key pieces had been recovered though, much to Kelsies relief.


Gold Signet Ring Lost on Tokerau Beach, Quickly Found

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

Diane phoned me yesterday, her son had just lost his ring in the sea at Tokerau Beach in Doubtless Bay, NZ.
Fortunately it was at high tide, and the water was only a metre deep when lost.

I arrived a few hours later for low tide. Diane and Dan were there to meet me and we went through the usual twenty questions.
Diane told me that she had paced out to roughly where the ring had been lost – Textbook stuff to help your neighbourhood Ringfinder.

Both of them marked their respective « X » in the sand where they thought it might be and I started the search pattern, half an eye on the motorbikes and four-wheel drives roaring past (Tokerau Beach is classed as public highway, it’s supposed to be limited to 30km/h, but…).

It was nice to be out of surf and on nice open, flat, hard sand for the first time in a long while.

After about a dozen lines, I got a solid tone – could only be one thing.

It was about 5cm down – Dan’s face lit up as I showed it to him.

… Mums mark in the sand was the closest 🙂


Lost ring Found in Water at Kowharewa Bay, Tutukaka, NZ

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

Chris was on holiday in Tutukaka, near Ngunguru in New Zealand. Shortly before he left, he and some friends went for a swim out from Kowharewa Bay, a shallow bay inside Tutukaka harbour.
On returning to the beach, he noticed his sentimental gold and palladium wedding ring was no longer on his finger.

His friends put a post up on the local Facebook community group asking if anyone had found a wedding ring at Kowharewa Bay. Posting on Social Media is a common reaction of people desperate to have their lost ring returned, unfortunately in this day and age it also attracts the wrong sort who actively seek to pocket the lost ring.

I was fortunate to see this post early though, and given the tides it was very unlikely anyone would attempt until the following day. I was on the road at 1am the next morning, making the long drive to Tutukaka to catch the 4am low tide.

This time of year, I do not do deep wades at night – Being ‘bumped’ by a shark on a night water search last summer was very unsettling. I could however cover the beach and shallows, thus minimising the likelihood of a ‘magpie’ detectorist sniping the ring. I would return on the afternoon tide to cover the extensive area out wide in the bay.

I spent the high tide period that morning snoozing in the shade, catching up on lost sleep from the early start. Then, as the tide fell, I commenced the water search.

It was a huge potential area, with only a fixed start point of a boat ramp, and a general direction. It would be easy for less experienced people to get ‘lazy’ with the coil, especially as the hours wear on and the arms start to hurt from pushing the detector against the water resistance.
Progressively moving out into the bay as the tide fell, I had covered just over 3,000 square metres; 3,097 to be exact. Yet another aluminium can pull tab had just been put in the pouch and on checking the location again, caught the sound of a probable ring at the outer edge of the swing.

The scoop slid through the mud and came to the surface, a plume of grey spreading out behind it. My fingers felt through the mud retained in the scoop and closed on a wide wedding band. I checked for an inscription as mentioned in the Facebook post, yes. The odds were very good this was the one.

I marked the spot just in case I needed to restart the search and went ashore to phone the Chris. He gave me a bible verse over the phone, to which I replied, « I have your ring here! »
A stunned silence for a few seconds before I heard the reaction on the other end of the phone… The sort of reaction that gives me the ‘warm fuzzies’ and drives me to do my utmost to reunite people with their lost items.

Chris’ friends met me shortly afterwards so I could hand the ring over to them, they would pass it on to him next time they met.It had been a very long day, so another short kip under the trees before the long drive home.

My tenacity and attention to detail is what gives me the edge and enables me to maintain a 95+% success rate. If you have had a friend or neighbour try to find your lost ring without success, don’t give it up as truly lost – give me a call 🙂

Please, please, don’t post detailed locations on Social Media. Contact an experienced Ring Finder as soon as possible for the best chance of getting your precious lost ring, bracelet, watch or necklace back. If you do want to post in case someone has , or may find it, keep it vague. A simple photo with any inscription and just the name of the beach will suffice.

Gold Ring Lost at Whangaumu Bay, Tutukaka – Found.

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

During a recent lost ring recovery in the Tutukaka and Ngunguru area, I was made aware of a historical ring loss at Whangaumu Bay a week previously.
I contacted Kiri to see if I could assist in returning her husbands ring, lost on the beach…somewhere.

I was down in Whangarei a couple of days later, so made the detour and headed out to meet Reghan, Kiris husband, at Whangaumu – Just over a week had passed since loss on this very mobile beach. The sand is very light and moves readily with any swells.

Having the ring owner on site to answer questions about the loss always hugely increases the odds of being able to hand your lost ring back to you. Some of the questions I ask may seem strange, they all add pieces to the puzzle and slowly builds up a ‘hotspot’ of where the ring likely lays…and where it probably isn’t.
Very often the ring is not where the person thought it should be.

I started the initial search where they had been sitting on the beach, Reghan mentioned he had launched a kayak to go out fishing – the tides were wrong for a water search at this stage, so I focused on clearing the beach.

The initial high probability area drew a blank, so I started to extend the search – further and further.
Then I dug a fishing jig head. Not a common design and from the condition it was a recent loss. I asked Reghan if it was a style he used? « Yes, that’s one of mine ».

I now had a definite reference point. Reghan had walked past this spot! I could now use my Search & Rescue experience to reassign probabilities to different areas around me, and work out his route. His tracks were long since erased by weather and waves, but human behaviour is almost universal.

I changed the search pattern based on his likely path. Retracing his footsteps from eight days ago…

Just two search lines later, a heavy gold ring came to the surface. I was confused as to whether it was Reghans ring as there were no assay stamps. I then found out their matching rings had been handmade by an artist friend of theirs.  You could never replace that.

37 years experience in recovering lost rings and precious items gives me an exceptional recovery rate, and I just love handing back treasured things that have been dismissed as « Gone Forever ».


Gold Ring Lost at Cable Bay, NZ. Recovered Quickly by Experienced Ring Finder

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

MyJanne contacted me one evening a couple of days ago, she had been swimming in Doubtless Bay, NZ earlier in the day and had lost her gold ring in the water.

Fortunately, she contacted me straight away and I was able to be on site after work the following day to catch the falling tide.

The sea had picked up quite a bit since she lost the ring and I could see a lot of sand being moved in the shallows, there was potential for the ring to go deep in conditions like this. Time was of the essence if it was in this mobile soup of broken shell fragments.

MyJanne arrived shortly after and indicated out in the water where she thought the ring might be, I kitted up and waded out.
The initial area was a blank with only the occasional skeletal remnant of a long lost toy car or old decimal coin.
The grid was therefore opened up to go wider and further out into deeper water.

After about 90 minutes, I got a clean tone. Second scoop captured it and there, in with the seaweed and shell, was Myjannes lost ring.
MyJannes prompt call to an experienced ringfinder with a proven track record on water recoveries meant she had the very best chances of getting her ring back.

Signet Ring Lost in Sea at Tutukaka, Found after Two Weeks

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

It was New Years Eve when Starlia was enjoying a swim at Whangaumu, near Tutukaka in New Zealand. As she stood in the sea, she was idly playing with the small engraved gold signet ring given to her on her 21st – when it slipped off and dropped.

Starlia and friends searched for some hours with masks and snorkels, but had to concede that her gold ring was lost to the sea.

Nearly two weeks later, she came across one of my recovery stories and got in touch. Was a recovery possible, and would I be able to help?

The next day found me walking the narrow track over the headland to the little bay. I wanted to catch the slack tide as the current flowing out from the Ngunguru estuary can be fierce in places. This makes life difficult when you’re trying to stay in place while retrieving a target from deep in the sand. Starlia had mentioned that there were two ‘dog sized’ rocks as a reference point.

As I walked the track that overlooks the bay, I looked down and saw two largish rocks that had been placed under the water about 10m off the beach. « Excellent, they’ve marked where they think they lost it ».

I was soon in the water and started the search around the rocks. A couple of fishing sinkers and a $1 coin that had been in the tide for many years told me that that no metal detectors had been through here since the loss, so the ring was still here – somewhere…

I rolled the rocks over – just in case they had inadvertently placed them ON the ring… Nothing.

Priding myself on an exceptional recovery rate, I could say with certainty the ring was not near the two rocks. Could the sand have built up during the bad weather we had over New Year or through natural sediment shift? I fell back onto my mantra of « Trust no-one. Assume Nothing. Check everything ».

Discounting the cairn, I started to search on the basis of no defined start point and took the grid right out to the edge of the channel dropoff.

In the clear water, I could see the usual sea life swim past. A school of yellow eye mullet momentarily investigated the cloud of sediment I was raising, the steady parade of small Eagle Rays leaving the estuary. Several schools of juvenile Kahawai and even a small Bronze Whaler slid past between me and the beach. The clarity was a pleasant change to the scuba recovery I had completed the previous day in zero visibility! That story will be up in coming days.

I had covered maybe 60% of the bay when Starlia arrived and I waded ashore to meet and greet.
The cairn of rocks wasn’t theirs!

Starlia pointed out two other rocks that I hadn’t yet reached, I felt better knowing the ring hadn’t been missed. Although the tide had now turned and the incoming current was starting to build rapidly. I quickly covered the deeper sections at the drop off before they became unworkable.

More fishing sinkers and rusting bottle caps then deep down, a faint smooth tone, very quiet but consistent. It didn’t have the harshness of a cap, nor the rude raspiness of a fishing sinker, but was it another aluminium can tab?

One scoop…two, the mobile sand and the current was backfilling the hole as fast as I could dig. This is when you can lose a ring beyond range of the machine if not careful as it sinks in the disturbed sands. I refixed the location and went deep, heaving several kilos of sand out of the hole. The hole was now quiet, but was it the ring?

I spread the scoop contents out across the bottom, waved the coil over it and a beautiful pure tone sang out. Only one thing sounds like that!

Rescooped the patch of sand where ‘a’ ring lay and rinsed the scoop – in the corner was a delicate gold signet ring. Job done.

I held it up to Starlia who was watching from the beach. Whoops and yells from Starlia (and another couple who I hadn’t realised were watching).

After the photos and hugs, I started the climb back up the hill.