The Ring Finders founder Chris Turner, left, returned a wedding ring to Jordan Richards last week. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Jordan Richards was smiling ear-to-ear when a professional treasure hunter returned his wedding band last Thursday, which the newlywed lost in Surrey only 26 hours after he tied the knot.

Richards told Peace Arch News he lost his wedding band on the 6100-block of 136 Street while removing items from a vehicle.

His father and grandfather spent hours searching for the ring, using a Tiger Torch to melt away the snow and even rented a metal detector.

As a last ditch effort, they contacted White Rock’s Chris Turner, founder of The Ring Finders, which is a directory of treasure hunters in the Lower Mainland and beyond.

Turner, who films all of his finds, was able to dig the ring out of the slush within a matter of minutes.

“I can’t believe it,” Richards told Turner Thursday as his ring was returned. “It means the world.”

The ring, which was in good condition minus a few chips, was sitting on the side of the road for 18 hours before it was returned. Turner believes the ring may have been struck by a vehicle, that’s why the Richards family wasn’t able to locate it.

“I’m no longer a bad legend in the family. I was getting roasted pretty hard,” Richards told PAN.

Richards said it must have slipped off his finger while he was pulling his hand out of his pocket.

“Just incredible,” Richards said to Turner. “I can’t believe you found it… it’s going to make for a funny story now.”

Turner has recovered more than 500 rings since he turned his metal-detecting hobby into a business.

His passion for metal detecting began in 1972, when he read about the hobby in a Field and Stream magazine.

“I got a job all summer at a chicken farm – I think I was 12 – I worked all summer and got my first metal detector and I’ve been hooked ever since,” Turner told PAN.

Shortly after purchasing the metal detector at age 12, Turner returned a ring to his neighbour, who lost it 10 years earlier in her garden.

“I found it. I got apple pie for a year at my door. Just the look on her face… here I am 12 years old, not realizing that there’s a business there.”

Turner kept the hobby, but set it aside while pursing a career in the film industry and played professional soccer until 1984.

He realized the business potential for his hobby while living in Los Angeles in 1986.

“Every morning I would get up early and search the beaches,” he said, adding that one time, a guy ran up to him, yelling in a panic.

“He said his wife lost her engagement ring, and they had been there since 11 p.m. using flashlights,” Turner said.

“I walked up there and found it in minutes. The look on that guys face was priceless. She was crying and his wallet came out and he gave me everything in it. I looked at him and said ‘I don’t want your money,’ and he said ‘you’re taking it.’”

Turner continued the hobby in Cancun, and when he moved back to Canada in 1995 he began to focus on how he could turn his hobby into a business.

He was contacted by an angel investor, who helped him launch The Ring Finders, which is a directory that lists more than 430 ‘ring finders’ across the globe.

Each ring finder posts a photo of the recovered ring and a photograph of its rightful owner. To date, more than 5,111 recoveries have been recorded, an estimated $7.5 million worth of jewelry returned.

But not all ventures are successful.

Turner, who only accepts payment if he finds the lost item, has spent days – unsuccessfully – searching for a ring.

“If I don’t find it, I don’t get paid. I’m a fanatic. When I know there’s a ring, I’ll do everything I can. You would not believe how many times I look at them and say your ring is not here, start looking somewhere else.”

His process begins with detective work, Turner asks numerous questions in hopes of revealing a clue about where the ring was lost.

One of the biggest challenges, Turner said, is that people think they lose rings when and where they notice them missing.

“Beach people, if they’re swimming and their ring is gone, they associate the loss right where they’re standing. I get there and it’s not there. They wonder why I can’t find it, and it’s only because it’s not there. Association of loss could put you a half a mile away, or could put you three hours of searching away. That’s why I ask the questions,” Turner said.

“It’s a lot like being a detective, and it’s fun. I like the challenge. The beautiful thing about this service is the stories that are attached to people’s ring.”

Turner said he’s been called to recover rings that were in the range of $65,000 to a silver wedding band. But each time, the reaction is similar.

It’s not the price-tag that gives the rings its value, Turner said it’s the sentimental attachment that makes the rings irreplaceable.

In 2010, Turner said he was asked to go to Canmore to help an Australian man recover three rings for his girlfriend.

The Australian and his girlfriend were road-tripping through Canada, near Canmore, when they pulled off to the side of the road to take a photo of the mountains. Before exiting the vehicle, the woman took off five rings and put them in the pouch in her sweater.

It wasn’t until the flight back to Australia that she had noticed the rings were gone, and she had a good idea of where she might have lost them.

Turner said the Australian flew back to Canada and retraced their steps using photographs they took along the way. The Australian found the approximate area of where the rings were lost, and spent two days digging with a fork – “if you can believe it” – and was able to recover two rings.

The following year, the Australian contacted Turner and the two made an arrangement to meet in the area to find the missing three rings.

As Turner was driving up to the location, it wasn’t looking promising, he told PAN, adding that road crews had been digging up the side of the road, but stopped just before where the rings were lost.

After a grid-search of the area, Turner was able to find the remaining three rings an entire year after they were lost. The couple eventually got married.

“It’s a true love story.”

But not all cases end with a happy result. With a growing number of metal detector enthusiasts searching public areas like beaches, finding a ring has become a time sensitive task.

“If it’s lost on a private property, it’s still there,” Turner told PAN. “If it’s lost on a beach, you need to get on it right away.”

Although the challenge of the hunt lures Turner to the job, it’s the reaction of people – and giving them a second chance at finding their sentimental item – that makes it his passion.

On his YouTube channel, Turner edited together an eight-minute video that shows reactions of his customers as they learn he found their ring.

Their unfiltered reactions – sometimes accompanied with tears of joy – never get old, “I love it,” he said.

Although successful at returning numerous high-value rings, there’s only one find that truly stole his heart.

“My wife is the most valuable thing I found.”

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