Couple Finds Quite a Sparkler: A Lost $40,000 Diamond Ring

By Theresa Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 5, 2008

Anyone missing a diamond ring?

A Fairfax County couple might have found it. Coated in dirt. Abandoned in a parking lot at Tysons Corner.

Keith Stetzer was in the parking lot recently finishing a cigarette when he noticed the solitaire diamond ring up against a concrete barrier.

"I was just knocking the hot end off the cigarette and happened to look down," Stetzer, 46, said Thursday. "I didn't know if it was real or not."

He would not find out until days later that the diamond was 3.02 carats and an excellent cut worth about $40,000. He only knew that he should try to find the owner.

"It was one of those things -- somebody lost this; they have to be looking for it," Stetzer said. Sure, he could use the money, he said. Stetzer is a construction worker; his wife, Linda, is a payroll clerk, and gas prices are not going down.

"When you don't have a whole lot, $40 is whole lot," he said. "But you've got to stop and think about it. If you lost that ring, would you want somebody to return it? If I lost my wallet, I would want somebody to return it."

In an attempt to find the owner, Linda Stetzer initially took the ring to a jeweler who cleaned it, noted its value, and found the word "Mervis" imprinted inside the band. The couple took the ring to the Mervis Diamond Center in Tysons.

"My uncle came up to me to say, 'You wouldn't believe what happened,' " said Jonathan Mervis, whose grandfather started the family company.

The company, he said, was impressed that the couple returned the ring and even more so that they insisted they did not want publicity. "I'm not looking for fame," Keith Stetzer said, hesitating on allowing The Washington Post to print his name. "I'm just trying to return something somebody lost."

Mervis is now helping in the search, agreeing to take the calls from the public and to verify ownership through its records. The ring is at least three years old because the company only printed its name on jewelry for a few years and stopped three years ago.

Meanwhile, Keith Stetzer said all the possible scenarios of how the ring ended up dirty and discarded have rolled through his mind. A bad divorce? An insurance scam?

"If you're sticking your hand in your pocket and lost a bunch of weight, it would have fallen off," Stetzer said. "Or maybe they had it in their pocketbook?"

That a bride could be inconsolably lamenting the loss of her ring has also not escaped Stetzer's thoughts.

"Either that, or there is a real mad husband out there," he said.

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