When you lose a diamond ring in the ocean, what are the chances that you’ll get it back?
For 29-year-old Francesca Teal, of Groveland, the odds turned out to be in her favor, thanks to social media and a metal detector hobbyist who was dogged in his pursuit of finding it for her.
It all started on Aug. 6, when Teal was at North Beach in Hampton, N.H.
She and her husband were in the water tossing a football back and forth to each other when suddenly, her wedding ring slipped off her finger.
“This one throw hit my hand, and I saw the ring pop off my finger and go into the water,” Teal said in a phone interview on Thursday. “In that moment, my heart dropped.”
She watched in horror as her ring — a cherished family heirloom that once belonged to her great-grandmother — disappeared into waist-deep water.
Made of white gold and diamonds, it was a double ring and truly unique, because it was her great-grandmother’s engagement ring and wedding ring, soldered together.
Her husband told her to not move from where she was standing, and they began to look around for the ring. At one point a woman nearby offered them a pair of goggles so they could see more clearly in the water. They spent hours looking around in the water, but had no luck.
Teal told the lifeguard at the beach what happened. “I went to the lifeguard and said, ‘if anyone picks up a ring, I just lost mine.’”
Teal then posted a photo of the ring on Facebook, and described the location of where she was when she lost it.
“Hello! Long shot here……… earlier today I was at The Wall, North Beach, Hampton N.H.& unfortunately lost my wedding ring in the ocean,” she wrote in a post on a Hampton Beach Facebook group. “We searched for hours with no luck... hoping this gets to anyone who might have a metal detector and goes to north beach frequently. It was in front of/around the 18th street area... just hoping if someone does happen to find it it can make its way back to me.. I appreciate all the help from those on the beach today looking as well. Here’s a photo for reference… thank you!”
“The post was shared thousands of times,” she said. “It was just wild.”
Teal started getting messages from people who do metal detecting as a hobby. One of them was Lou Asci.
Asci, who lives in Marshfield, went out searching for her ring.
“He said, don’t lose hope,” she said. “He was so determined.”
Asci, 60, looked up the tides, donned a headlamp and wetsuit and got to work. The first time he searched, he had no luck. Then he tried again a couple days later. Still no luck.
“I don’t take failure all too well,” said Asci. “I wanted to go back and give it one last shot.”
So he went back and searched the area again. It was the evening of Aug. 14, more than a week after she lost the ring, when he made the discovery.
“It was getting late, it was getting dark, and the tide was coming in,” said Asci. “I decided to go out deeper than where I thought it was.”
Asci was in water a little bit higher than his waist when he got a hit on his metal detector. The ring had been covered by 4 inches of sand.
“That’s where it was,” he said. “It was buried,”
Asci then contacted her with incredible news: he found a ring that looked like hers.
Asci sent her a photo of the ring.
“Please tell me this is the ring,” he wrote, “so I can finally get off this beach.”
Teal couldn’t believe it.
“Omg,” she wrote. “That’s it!!!”
Asci went to Teal’s home and gave the ring to her husband, Austin, to put back on her finger — and then captured the special moment on video.
Teal said she was so grateful.
“I thanked him so much,” she said.
Teal also posted a thank you message on Facebook and shared the good news to the Hampton Beach Residents & Friends Facebook group.
“I posted in here last week about my ring that fell in the ocean on 8.6, at North Beach in Hampton & I’m so happy to say —- My ring was found and has been brought back to me!” she wrote. “Thank you to everyone who shared that post, sent well wishes or prayed to St. Anthony. But mostly thank you to Lou Asci & all the other very kind, generous & inspiring strangers that took time out of their days to search for it. I have been so overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers this past week. It has been so amazing to witness humanity in this positive way & has brought so much faith to myself & others. People helping people, I will always extend my hand to others in the way you all have showed to me. As my Dad would say ‘do good, be good’ Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Asci said he was happy to help.
“I didn’t want to give up on it,” he said in a phone interview. “This was something very important to her.”
Asci got into metal detecting as a hobby about five years ago, when he was given a metal detector on Father’s Day. He’s been hooked on it ever since, and likes to help out whenever he can.
While searching in the water for Teal’s ring Asci found a man’s wedding ring, and now he hopes to reunite that piece of lost jewelry with its rightful owner.
He wrote about it on the Hampton Beach Facebook group: “If you or someone you know lost a men’s wedding ring in the water off 18th St. please PM me with a description,” his Facebook post said. “I would love to return it to the owner.”