Giving back is the most satisfying thing for treasure hunters


One day this year I was in South Africa at a public beach in the KZN province. I was in the parking lot, taking my gear out of the car and putting on my wetsuit.

A woman pulled up in a car and asked me if that was a metal detector I was assembling. Of course! I told her. She asked if I could use it in the sea and I told her that is mostly all I do – metal detect in the water. Then she told me that she’d said a prayer that she would run across someone with a metal detector one day, and there I was! Her prayers were answered.

She told me she had lost a ring in the sea, her mother’s wedding ring, and wondered if I might keep my eyes open for it. She described the ring for me and told me how she was swimming and the ring came off her finger. She had looked hard for it underwater, even resorting to holding her sister upside down by the legs so her sister could feel around the bottom for the ring (not a recommended treasure hunting method). She was distraught as this ring had huge sentimental value to her and especially her mother. She gave me her business card.

I sort of knew the general area to look and began working it with my CTX and a 17” coil; harder to swing underwater, but I was wanted to cover as much area as possible as sunset was approaching. After about 4 hours in the sea, working overlapping lines in a wide zigzag pattern, I heard a good signal and dug out the gold ring!

It was the lost ring! Already it had sunk well over a foot underneath the seabed – probably even beyond the range of my standard CTX coil.
I contacted her and told her to come and get her ring. She was overjoyed! She asked me what she owed me and I said I didn’t want a reward, that her joy and relief on the phone was enough for me. She arrived at my place some hours later with her kids and her sister too, right side up this time. Her kids had made me this amazing sign:

Those of us who have done it can tell you that nothing beats the feeling you get returning a lost ring. But what if she hadn’t happened to be driving past as I was unpacking my gear? The ring had no marks or inscriptions inside. I might have found it and not known who it belonged to…
The moral of the story: don’t swim wearing rings! But if you are going to swim with your jewelry, engrave identifying marks inside of the band. Not just a first name and a wedding date either, engrave a full name or even an email address. Most of us serious metal detectorists will gladly return a ring if we can identify the owner.

I wear a nice big platinum band. I don’t swim with it, but I do have my email address inscribed inside just in case.
If any of you detectorists ever find this one, it belongs to me!