By Frank Colletti
There are times when you show up at the beach, park, or school where you are going to start your day detecting and you just know that you are going to have a good day. Sadly, for most of us, those good days are too few and far between. Then there is the disappointment of the days where you are sure that you are going to have a great day, and it turns out to be a bust. However, it is the not knowing, the anticipation, that keeps the typical treasure seeker on the hunt, day after day, year after year. Much in the way that Mel Fisher started each day with a rousing “today’s the day,” I try my best to maintain a positive attitude each and every time that I go out on a search. As I fire up my White’s DFX, I just know that today will be the day, otherwise, why go out?
If you approach your day detecting with the assumption that you will not find anything, then that is probably just what you will find, very little. I have been detecting since 1988, and since that time I have said that someday I will find two things, a gold coin, and my engagement ring. Why? Because I believe in keeping a positive attitude. Sure, after 20 years of searching for that gold coin or that engagement ring it can get discouraging. There have been many times that I hit the beach with great expectations, and an hour later only had a bag of junk, and then left. But, perhaps if I had stayed positive and kept on searching that day I may have hit that gold ring sitting in the sands that was waiting for me. Instead, I left with nothing to show for the day. On this particular Saturday morning, we (my wife and I) were visiting friends down south and I snuck out for some early morning detecting. The day was warm and promised to be a beautiful summer day, but hot, so I wanted to get out early before the crowds. I had never been to this particular beach before but had heard that the crowds pack in fairly early.
Before too long I had managed to start plucking the coins from the first few inches of the sand and was enjoying a nice sunny dawn. I started to work patterns in the sand, using a line from the trucks that clean the beaches as a point for keeping my patterns straight. I have found that this is the easiest way to be sure that you are giving the beach decent coverage. Sure, you can still miss many targets, but you will improve your chances if you keep your patterns neat and careful, and remember to overlap them a bit.
On this day I continued to carefully work on one of my first lines of patterns. I got a solid hit and scooped it before I even bothered to check the reading. I do this frequently because I know that I am going to dig the target, even if it is trash, just to clean up the area. At any rate, I suddenly heard a nice tone in my basket and checked and saw what appeared to be a nice silver ring. However, as soon as I picked it up I realized that it was too heavy for silver. Turning it over I was suddenly staring at a wedding band with five decent-sized diamonds. Carefully wiping off the sand, I peered inside and saw the making Plat. It was instantly apparent that this was a platinum ring, and that (most likely) the diamonds were real! I looked around to be sure that I was alone, and quietly pumped my fist with a soft “YES!”
Carefully, I put it in an inside pocket, this was one that I didn’t want to take any chance of losing. I was really pumped, and thought to myself:
Now, I just have to find the matching engagement ring.
Yes, I really did think that. So, I proceeded to continue my patterns and about five feet later got another hit. Another scoop, and another sound in my basket. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Another ring. I shook out the rest of the sand and plucked it out of the basket. My hands were shaking as I stood staring at what appeared to be an engagement ring with a giant (to my eyes) diamond. Realizing the possibility that it was cubic zirconium (read: fake diamond), I checked the inside of the ring and saw (once again) Plat. Once again, I checked to be sure that I was alone on the beach, and quietly pumped a fist with another “Yes!”
Continuing to run my patterns, I continued to scoop coins with regularity. It was amazing, but there seemed to be a coin every third step, and even some pocket spills of multi-coin scoops. By the end of the day, I had accumulated 132 coins, which included 51 quarters, 24 dimes, 15 nickels, and 42 cents, for a total of $16.32. Not bad at all in change for one day’s hunt. However, the adventure had just begun for me. I arrived back at our friend’s house and couldn’t wait to show my wife my finds. I showed her the wedding band first and said that I was sure that it was platinum and that the diamonds were real. I asked her “Do you know how I know that they are real?” Naturally, she replied, “How?” “Well, it matches this,” and I showed her the engagement ring. For the first time in all my years detecting my wife was nearly speechless. That, alone, was worth the experience. I have found a number of gold rings, some of which she has actually liked, none of which she had any desire to take. But, she has never reacted like this.
Then the adventure to find out what the rings were worth. Initially, I got a reference to an area jewelry store but learned that it would cost about $75 to $100 for an appraisal. Too rich for my blood. Then I went to a local neighborhood jeweler, but the jeweler was out for a couple of days, the only employee that was there looked at it and stated that it looked good to him, but I’d have to talk to the other guy to get a value. He kindly steamed the rings out for me (to remove any sand that may have stuck in the mountings). A return visit the next week showed a sign that they were on vacation for two weeks. This was getting silly, and I was getting antsy that the ring may turn out to have a fake diamond, and crush my hopes, and dreams.
Finally, a friend told me that his neighbor and friend for the past 30 years was a jeweler. I met Richie one morning and we walked over to his neighbor to get his opinion. I have to be honest at this point, I was very nervous, and I was glad that we didn’t have to go very far. I met Keith and he slowly examined the rings. First, he said that the wedding band had five, 15-point diamonds and was worth about $1,300. I started to relax, if one was good, well, then the odds had greatly improved for me.
Then he carefully examined the engagement ring’s stone and stated that there was no doubt that the stone was real. In fact, it was approximately 1.25 carats, an exact weight can only be made by removing it from the mounting, and that it was of excellent quality. He estimated the value at about $8,000. And that is in a very poor market. As he explained, as a result of the current recession, the market for diamonds (as well as most jewelry including Rolex watches) had dropped considerably. He had just returned from a buying trip where a wholesaler showed him a safe filled with Rolex watches that he was buying for little over melt value in gold. He planned to hold onto them until the economy improved and then he’d make a nice profit.
So, in spite of the economy, my rings had turned out to be excellent finds, and they are my finds, not just of the year, but of my detecting career. Sure, I have met people who have stated that they have found more than one diamond ring, and I have no reason to doubt them, however, this one is mine! And I have finally realized a 20-year-long dream of finding my engagement ring. Thank you, Mel Fisher, ‘Today was the day!’