HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you lose your ring in the sand or surf, it’s a good bet Joe Au-Franz can find it. He has the tools ― and a terrific track record.
“I’ve had tremendous success,” he said.
Since he joined the Ring Finders organization in 2014, the retired Navy veteran has reunited owners with 214 lost engagement and wedding rings, not to mention all kinds of precious jewelry.
“I just enjoy the hobby, and the smile I can put on someone’s face,” he said. “That’s what makes it.”
When Au-Franz gets a call from a ring owner, he gathers information then goes to the site. He builds a grid where the ring was lost, then carefully searches the area using a sensitive metal detector until he zeroes on the target.
And he is tenacious.
“I enjoy it. It’s hunting,” he said.
His hunts have also turned up oddities, from mortuary tags and school lunch tokens to silver and gold crowned teeth.
Valuables he finds aside from his assignments are photographed and posted on his Metal Detecting Oahu Facebook page. You need to know details to claim them.
“Inscriptions that people can identify, diamonds, dates, things like that. Something that only they would know. I don’t want to give someone a ring that doesn’t belong to them,” he said.
He holds onto rings that no one claims, in hopes that someday someone will contact him.
“They’re all found here locally,” he said.
His searches can also take him into the ocean, where he dons scuba gear. Happy owners send him photos of themselves wearing their returned rings. Each success story goes into a folder he calls his Book of Smiles.
As for payment?
“If you want to give me a reward you can. You don’t have to. I’ve gotten anything from a loaf of banana bread to thousands of dollars. Now, those thousands of dollars were for a very expensive ring,” he said.
When Au-Franz retired from the Navy, The Ring Finders turned him down, saying he didn’t have enough experience in metal detection to join their group.
Now he’s the best in the biz.