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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
The quest for the ring owner
By Ben Jeffrey
BBC News Online

Lost ring
The ring was made in Birmingham between 1920 and '21
Underwater metal detector enthusiast Neal Bashor has found countless pieces of jewellery and enough coins to fill a bucket in the few years since he took up his hobby.

But the 52-year-old human resources consultant always wishes he could return lost treasures to their owners, and when he unearthed a wedding band from the bed of the Caribbean Sea in March he realised he might be able to make someone very happy.

An unusual coincidence has given Mr Bashor an added interest in finding out who lost the ring.

It is inscribed with the date 22 November 1996; he was born on the same day 45 years earlier.

The 22-carat gold ring's hallmark indicates it was made in Birmingham between 1920 and 1921, according to BBC One's Bargain Hunt antiques expert David Barby.

'Slot machine'

"It sounds like a wedding band that has been passed on within the family," he told BBC News Online.

Mr Bashor believes it was probably lost during a honeymoon and said the ring looked as though it had been in the water for about six years.

Neal Bashor
Neal Bashor is keen to find the owner of the ring
The ring is inscribed with the initials SH, which the Birmingham Assay Office said was registered by a designer called Samuel Hope in 1894.

He was a wedding ring maker based in the city's Jewellery Quarter.

If the owner of the band can be located, it would not be the first time Mr Bashor, from Cockeysville, Maryland, USA, has reunited a couple with a lost ring.

His underwater metal-detecting hobby, which he describes as "like playing a slot machine without having to put money in it", took off in earnest with a plea for help as he holidayed in Hawaii.

A newly-wed couple asked Mr Bashor's wife for help to find a wedding ring they had lost in the ocean.

My wife usually appropriates any jewellery I find
Neal Bashor
He spent two days searching for the $2,000 platinum ring and found it just before the couple were due to fly home from the Pacific island.

"We're still on their Christmas card list," he said.

Mr Bashor, a father-of-one, even found two other rings the same day he uncovered the Birmingham-made wedding band.

But he said his hobby was not so lucrative he could give up his day job, adding: "My wife usually appropriates any jewellery I find."

If you think the ring is yours, or you know who lost it, follow the Feedback link below and explain where in the Caribbean it was last seen.

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27 Jul 04  |  Merseyside


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