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Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings

You’re throwing a football on the dry sand.
Thwack. Thwack.
The next time you throw the ball, your ring comes flying off with it.
You think you see where it landed and run to check the sand.
Not there.
You start checking around the area. Panic sets in. How are you going to find your ring?

You call John Favano, ring recovery specialist at Ring Finders South Jersey.

“I like helping people find their sentimental lost rings, watches, keys, whatever they lost. In the summertime, we’re down at the shore. My area is usually from Brigantine to Cape May. I do Delaware, the Wilmington area. I’ll go basically anywhere; Lancaster, South Jersey. I do backyards, parks, and lawns. Just about anywhere you can metal detect,” said John.

He started his hunt five years ago.

“I was an avid metal detectorist. I came across the main site that we belong to called Ring Finders. It’s a group of over 400 metal detectorists throughout the world that help people find their lost rings. I then started my own Facebook page, and Instagram – Ring Finders South Jersey. I liked to treasure hunt before I joined Ring Finders.”

John works another full-time job that’s not related to metal detecting.

“Ring Finders is not a business; it’s a hobby. I do corporate dining; Monday through Friday I’m a chef in an office building for executives. Ring Finders gets me out metal detecting more. I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt, too. I enjoy helping people. It gives me joy, too, when they find it, when I find it. To see them smile, they’re happy,” John said. “You get a good feeling when you find something for someone. They’re so excited. You get an adrenaline rush; you’re helping somebody.”

How long does it take John to find what’s missing? Well, it depends.

“You have to have an idea of the area where you lost it. Sometimes it takes a minute to find if you had the ring on your lap, you put sunscreen on, and it fell off. People looking for it can drive it deeper. I tell them to stop looking because once you start moving the sand around, it’s going to go deeper into the sand. I just did a search where I spent two hours looking for it. They put it in the cup holder and folded up their beach chair. I searched the area where they were sitting. Then, I searched a couple paths wider of where they walked. We don’t find them all. If it was there, I would have found it. Somebody could have picked it up off the ground. It could have been lost in the street. Lost items can take an hour, two hours, 30 seconds, or five minutes.”

John doesn’t just search for lost items on the beach.

“I also do metal detecting in farm fields. I like history. I like to find colonial stuff in farm fields. Here in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, people have been here since the 1600s. People call me in the off season too. Every now and then I do get calls for rings lost in the snow, or while raking leaves.”

John has found some unexpected items over the years.

“The weirdest thing I ever found was a partial made out of metal. It was a three piece crown with the ceramic teeth still in it. You can find cremation tags but I always throw them back. They put ID tags in the ashes. I don’t need a souvenir; I don’t need to bring that home.” John said.

He can search in the water, too.

“The machine is waterproof. You have to go slow. You can’t go fast in the water. You use permanent markers that are around, pilings on the pier or outlet drains. I move myself back and forth. Keep the coil down on the sand and in the water,” said John.

The timing of the search is key.

“Tides, hurricanes, storms – everything affects metal detecting. The beach is a living organism. That affects ring finding too, tides in general. At high tide, you don’t have as much of a chance as at low tide,” said John.

The sooner you call John, the better your chances are of having your item recovered.

“The odds of it being there after four to five days aren’t that good. I’m very honest with people. I don’t like to give them false hope. I don’t want to waste their time or my time. I have to be realistic.”

Sometimes, calls that come in are surprising.

“An older guy called and said, ‘I lost my Father’s Navy ring on the beach.’ It was December, so I thought he had gone fishing.”

The ring owner knew he lost it in North Wildwood. John asked the guy when he lost it. 1986.

Telling John the story behind your losing the items also helps him to find it.

“It’s all about the information I can get from the person that lost it. You have to be a detective. Sometimes the story isn’t always true. I’ve had stories that they were fighting and she threw the ring. You have to take them at their word. The more information you give me, like the direction, the better chance of recovery,” said John.

Overall, he just wants you to be able to enjoy your vacation.

“I want the item to be found. Ninety-five percent of the time, people are on vacation. I want to get them back to their vacation as soon as possible. If I spent two hours looking for it and I found it, you can enjoy the rest of your vacation.” John said. “You don’t have to be sad for the rest of your week. If you’re on vacation and down for the week and you lose your ring, how do you feel? Now that it’s found, celebrate and get back to the party.”

John gives some tips for people before they call him.

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Don’t Dig Deep

“People looking for it can drive it deeper. I tell them to stop looking because one you start moving the sand around, it’s going to go deeper into the sand.”

Keep it to Yourself

Someone else with a metal detector might find your item and decide to keep it.

“I don’t want them to post it on social media because people who have metal detectors might find it and keep it,” John said.

If you’re going to post to social media that you lost it, don’t get too specific.

“You can post that you lost it but don’t post where you lost it. If you think you have an idea of where you lost it, look for permanent markers. Try to have an idea of the location of where you lost it, what kind of day it was, especially if it was in the water. Have a location and you know it’s high tide, when the water goes away, it’s easier to find,” said John.

Be Specific

The more information you can give John, the better.

“The more information you can give me about where and how you lost it; throwing a football, sitting in a chair, picking up the baby at the water’s edge, the better chance I have of finding it.”

Find this story and more in our September/October magazine

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