When you lose a wedding or engagement ring, it can feel like you’ve lost the whole world. You may start to curse your carelessness and stupidity. You may feel like your marriage has taken a major blow. Try to keep a clear head, though. The more logically you can retrace your steps, the better chance you have of finding your ring again.
Look for It ASAP
As soon as you realize the ring is gone, start looking for it. If you didn’t feel it slip off, try to remember the last time you still had it on. Call the stores and offices you visited recently to examine their “Lost and Found” boxes. Check around the most likely culprits–the bathroom and kitchen sinks, tight pants pockets, couch cushions, and underneath furniture in the rooms you use the most often. If you did feel it slip off, start looking immediately. The longer you wait, the greater the chance that the ring will roll and settle deeper into its hiding place–or worse, a dishonest person could find it!
Swimming is one of the most common ways to lose a ring. If you lose yours in a swimming pool, grab a snorkel and comb the bottom of the pool. Don’t forget to check the areas around and inside the pool filters!
If you lose your ring in the ocean, your best chance of finding it lies in an underwater metal detector (these are available for rental in most beach towns for as little as 40 dollars a day). Have someone mark the spot where the ring was last seen while you race around to find one (if you’re lucky, you’ll see a kind beachcomber). If you need to come back another day, make a careful note of landmarks and, if possible, GPS coordinates. Keep in mind that the shifting ocean floor buries objects almost immediately, so don’t fall prey to the urge to drop more jewelry to “see what you’re looking for.” That’s an all-too-common way of losing more jewelry.
Make an Insurance Claim
Was your ring insured? If so, you’re in luck! Follow your insurance company’s instructions for making a claim (and be sure to do so promptly). Be sure to keep a copy of the claim and note the date for your own records. In addition to describing the ring and how it was lost, note what steps you’ve already taken to look for it.
For ascertaining the ring’s value, a recent appraisal is the most helpful document. If you don’t have one, enlist a jeweler’s help in estimating the value based on similar rings. This will give your insurance company proof of the ring’s value. Try to pick a jeweler whose rings you like, as establishing a relationship now will be useful when it’s time to replace the ring.
With most insurance companies, you’ll have an option of taking a replacement ring or its equivalent cash value. Taking a replacement ring will usually result in a smoother process, since it has less chance of triggering fraud alarms.
Tell Your Spouse
As heart-rending as it may be to realize you’ve lost a valuable ring, the initial shock is often nothing compared to the agony of breaking the news to your partner. While delivering unwelcome news is never easy, there are some ways you can help ease your partner into your situation.
If you think your partner will get very emotional, have the talk in person. You’ll be better able to gauge his reaction and intersperse the news with hugs or apologies than if you leave him a phone (or worse, text) message. Be ready to absorb an angry reaction without starting a fight to defend yourself; now is a time to act as a team so you can solve the problem together. Since your partner may–consciously or unconsciously–associate the loss of the ring with a loss of commitment on your part, be sure to describe how much your relationship means to you and how you can’t wait to have a ring back on your finger.
Tell the truth immediately. Don’t try to buy yourself time by saying you’re “just having the ring cleaned” or another excuse. Not only will the truth catch up with you eventually, but you may land yourself in hot water by getting your partner suspicious about a possible affair! The sooner you take responsibility for losing the ring, the sooner you can bridge the shock of losing it and start forming a plan for going forward.
Buy a Cheap Replacement
If you don’t find your ring within a day or two, you may want to buy an interim ring so your finger doesn’t feel empty. (Not every relationship places a high emotional value on symbolic jewelry, so you and your partner may be happy to search for the ring without wearing a replacement.) Don’t spend a lot of money on the interim ring, since you’ll probably want to buy a “real” one if you can’t find the original. As long as it’s noticeable on your ring finger, any ring will do the job of announcing your commitment to the world.
After you lose an expensive item like a wedding or engagement ring, you may start to wonder about the wisdom of spending two months’ salary on a small piece of jewelry that’s supposed to be worn every day. If you and your partner decide you’d rather stick with cheap rings in the future, that’s also a valid choice. Just talk it over first and make sure you both agree.
Don’t Rule Out a Miracle
While it’s important to be practical, don’t give up all hope, either. The world is full of miraculous stories of wedding and engagement rings that have found unlikely ways back to their owners. When his wedding ring fell into a trash can and was emptied into a dump truck, Gary McNeill dug through heaps of trash in an Oklahoma City dump–and actually found it again. Lina Tan lost her ring down a toilet–and after six hours of searching through Singapore’s sewers, water and maintenance crews returned it to her.
Take Steps to Protect Future Rings
In order to never go through the emotionally (and financially) draining experience of looking for a lost wedding or engagement ring again, take a few simple steps to protect future jewelry. First, make sure the ring fits snugly around your finger. You should be able to wash your hands and shake them vigorously dry without feeling movement from the ring. Second, get your rings insured. Third, remove your rings before swimming in the ocean, playing vigorous sports, or using your hands to sculpt messy things like bread dough and clay. When you remove your jewelry for any reason, put it in a zippered pocket or other secure and memorable place before proceeding with the activity. You may also want to consider wearing a fake ring instead of the original.
And remember–as expensive and emotionally meaningful a wedding or engagement ring may be, it’s still not as important as your marriage itself. Even though you’ve lost a valuable object, try to take comfort in knowing that you and your partner still have each other’s love–and there’s no danger of losing that the next time you wash your hands.
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