Megan Proctor Connelley
Jeweler, Gemologist, & Entrepreneur | NC + FL
I'm all out of love,
I'M so lost without you....
When we lose jewelry we love.
There are few feelings as awful as the pit-in-your-stomach sensation that accompanies the realization that you have lost something valuable and cherished. Almost as soon as the dread has starts set in, comes the crazed sense of panic. Where did I put it!? When was the last time I had it?! What if it's gone forever?! What will I tell the person who gave it to me?! We've all been there, and I put together this list of steps to take to recover and prevent the loss of a piece of jewelry.
JEWELRY-FINDING TIPS FROM A JEWELER.
#1: Retrace your steps
This step could probably go without saying, as it seems to be where people intuitively begin before totally succumbing to panic: Think back to the last time you remember having the jewelry and try to recall all the places you visited & things you did between now and then.
More often than not, the jewelry is somewhere logical: In our jewelry box, but in the wrong place. Or if it's a ring, check bathroom and kitchen counters, night stands, or flat surfaces near where you last changed clothes. Its very typical for women to remove jewelry before household chores, exercise, gardening, applying cosmetics or lotions, so try to keep those places and activities in mind while searching.
Several years ago, I lost a ring at a gas station bathroom (Striplings General Store in GA!), because I took it off before washing my hands. I called, and sure enough, the manager found it placed on the sink and was even kind enough to mail it back to me!
#2: If you JUST lost it, take note of your surroundings.
I've seen far too many people roaming beaches with metal detectors trying to hunt down a lost ring, or painstakingly combing through blades of grass in a back yard. This tip is particularly helpful if you are somewhere far from home, outdoors, or in public... and suspect you have JUST lost your jewelry. Take note of where you are. Get the exact name of the places you visited, jot down the address of where you are in case you need to return later want to file a report. Look around for landmarks, particularly if you are on a beach or park. Its a lot easier to tell people to look "between the pier and the blue house" than to search the entire beach.
My sister lost a piece of jewelry, but was able to recover it because she remembered what level of a parking garage and approximately which spot she parked in... and sure enough it had fallen off as she loaded her car!
#3: Turn out the lights & use a flashlight
This tip comes from years of being a jeweler and gemologist. Whenever a stone flings from a pair of tweezers or bounces off a work bench, the first thing a jeweler will do is turn off all the lights, make it as dark as possible in the room, and bust out a handy flashlight to begin the search. We used to call this the "jewelers prayer", crawling around on hands and knees hoping our lost stone turns up. Since diamonds are highly refractive, they will sparkle when light hits them. And metal such as gold, sterling silver, or platinum is the same way, it will often flash enough that it will usually catch your eye if you shine a light on it. Fortunately even when away from the house, most of us conveniently have flashlight capabilities on our smart phones. So turn on the flashlight and begin looking under cabinets, beds, furniture, etc!
#4: Check sink trap
The sink seems to be such a common place to lose rings that we decided it was worth adding to our list of places to check. So often, rings will slide off a finger when wet & soapy or will get knocked into the sink after being placed on the ledge before doing chores or applying makeup. Fortunately, almost all sinks have a P-Trap beneath them. They exist to prevent sewer gases from coming up the pipe and to catch items that fall into the drain. So turn of your water and remove the P-trap to check for your missing jewelry.
#5: Tidy Up + Check the Silly Places
Anytime I misplace something, I take it as a sign that I need to tidy up my surroundings. No need to go full Marie Kondo on your house, but take some time to eliminate clutter and make sure everything is in it's proper place. Once you start moving things around, often you'll uncover the item you have lost in the process!
In addition to tidying up, check silly places like coat and pant pockets, inside of your handbag (I've been known to take a ring off before a manicure and put it in my purse, thinking it would be safe), in between the couch cushions, in your bed sheets, and at the bottom of the clothes hamper.
#6: Enlist Outside Help
If you can't find your jewelry, it's time to take the next steps and enlist some outside help!
If you lost your ring outside or in a public space, its a great idea to file a police report. The police can keep an eye out for your jewelry and filing a report will also create official documentation that the piece belongs to you and is missing. This helps in the event that someone tries to pawn the piece once it is found. Most insurance companies also require a police report in order to move forward with replacing your lost goods. Be as specific as possible in your description to police, and provide any pictures, appraisals, or diamond reports you have on the piece.
It is also a good idea to contact local jewelry stores and pawn shops to alert them that your piece is missing. All pawn shops have to keep record of sellers and rings pawned, so alerting them to your ring could help them be on alert for people trying to cash in on your lost jewelry.
If you live in a small city or lost your ring in a public place, you could also try putting out fliers about your lost jewelry and offer a reward for it's safe return. Online lost ads could also help. For several weeks after your jewelry goes missing, try to keep an eye on classified ads and websites such as craigslist, ebay, and local facebook buy/sell pages to make sure your piece does not end up there.
Finally, if your piece has still not turned up and was insured, go ahead and file an insurance claim.
#7: Make Peace with its Absence
This step sucks, but when all else fails, it's necessary. As many times as I remind you that what you lost is just a "thing", a tangible item... I know it still feels like part of your heart is broken. The reason for this heartbreak makes sense. Though jewelry can be thought of as just "material stuff", it often becomes totally imbued with powerful sentiment because it reminds us of special occasions, memories we cherish, and people we've loved or lost. Because of this, we feel like we've lost so much more than just a physical belonging or the monetary value of the jewelry... we feel like we've lost a part of who we are. And worse, often the loss is accompanied by feelings of guilt. After personally mourning the loss of a piece, our next thought is often "how will I explain to my grandmother that the heirloom is missing?" or "My husband will be so mad that I lost my engagement ring".
Try to remember that even though the item is gone, that it in no way lessons the value and significance of the abstract idea that it represented.
Remember, The best step you can take is prevention
Here are our suggestions on how to keep your jewelry safe.
Never wear while swimming or at the beach.
Beach weekends are fabulous, but I NEVER wear my rings or nice jewelry in the water or to the beach. Salt water and air is particularly corrosive as are sunscreens. Sand can scratch your jewelry. And more importantly, our fingers can shrink and become slippery in the water. The beach and swimming pools are one of the most common places to lose jewelry. So just don't wear it there.
Never wear at the gym.
There's no reason to wear your jewelry to the gym. Weights can scratch and bend your jewelry. Sweaty, slippery fingers make it easy to lose a ring. Equipment makes it easy to snag a necklace or bracelet. And the moves in your favorite cardio class may cause an earring to fall out. And unfortunately, since gyms are busy places, if a piece falls off or gets lost, there are lots of people who may pick it up and forgo the visit to lost & found to turn it in.
Never wear while gardening or working in the yard.
The yard seems to be another place that people commonly lose their jewelry, particularly rings. Getting a bunch of potting soil stuck in your ring is already a bad idea since it can get trapped in settings and dull the overall appearance of your piece. But also, the tools may scratch or damage your piece, and if it falls off while gardening, trying to recover the piece will be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Consider bringing a "decoy" ring on vacation.
I never take my fine jewelry on vacation. Instead I opt to bring a rubber ring made by QALO (also what I wear to the beach, gym, etc), or I bring costume jewelry and decoy fine jewelry pieces. If you feel weird without the glam of your jewelry, just visit a local department store and pick up a fabulous fake. You'll still have some sparkle and shine, but won't have something precious to worry with keeping track of. The chances of losing jewelry on vacation are just too high and the risk of never seeing it again is much greater than when a piece of jewelry is lost at home. On vacation, people opt for active excursions, beach trips, and are also removed from their normal habits of where they put jewelry when they change clothes, bathe, etc. I brought my rubber ring on a trip to the Amalfi Coast last Fall and still managed to accidentally leave it on a dresser in my Airbnb. I was glad I lost a $35 decoy engagement ring instead of the real thing.