A 45-year-old Albuquerque woman is sporting a billion-dollar smile today after getting a $30,000 diamond engagement ring which she lost in 1997. "She said it was like being reunited with a long-lost love," said Lt. Louis Carlos, who returned the ring to the woman Wednesday at the Santa Fe Police Department.
The available ring had been in the agency's confirmation room for more than two years. Two weeks ago, police openly announced they would auction off the 3-karat diamond if the owner did not come forward soon.
About 25 people then claimed the ring was theirs. "Most were outlandish stories and dismissed right away," Carlos said. "There were claims of theft or it having been lost, but what nobody could come up with was proof of ownership of the ring. That is, until this woman came to us and not only explained us with paperwork to include a receipt for the ring, but photographs of her wearing the ring."
The woman, who asked police not to free her name to the media, told investigators that she charged the pear-shaped diamond ring to her own credit card in February 1997. She said her fiancé was setting up to make the payments on it. "It was about the same time the engagement broke off, so she thought maybe her ex had taken it, but she also wasn't sure she didn't accidentally throw the ring out," Carlos said. "Either way, without knowing for certain what she did with the ring, she decided by no means to file a report with police."
It is uncertain whether the woman had filed an insurance claim. The price she paid for the ring was not revealed, although it was assessed last year for $30,000, police said. In April 2009, a man and woman walked into Earthfire Gems Gallery, 121 Galisteo St., and attempted selling the ring for $200, according to police. The store's owner, who identified something was up, went to the back of the shop and called police.
When investigators arrived, the man fastened, but the woman stayed, claiming the piece was an engagement ring that she no longer sought and didn't care what price she got for it.
Police were convinced the ring did not belong to the couple, so they protected it in their confirmation room. No charges were filed against the couple. Two years later, not a single area theft report matched up with the ring, and no one stepped forward looking for it. While available evidence often is put on the auction block much sooner, the value of the ring led law enforcement to keep it for two years.
Carlos said Wednesday that there is no reason to think the man who ran from the jewelry store in 2009 is the owner's ex-fiancé Police have no idea how the pair came into control of the ring. Last week, according to Carlos, the ring's owner was advanced by a friend in Albuquerque asking if she had read the story about the available diamond ring in Santa Fe.
"She know nothing about it, so her friend pulled up an article on her phone and showed it to (the ring's owner)," Carlos said. "She said, 'That's my ring! That's my ring!' " But the next step was judgment proof of rights. According to police, the woman asked her husband to go through some paperwork in their storage space shed. The husband was able to find the papers. A family picture with the ring on the woman's hand preserved the deal.
"We had no doubt at all the ring was hers," Carlos said. "I even had Capt. (Aric) Wheeler there giving his opinion to be safe, and neither of us doubt this is her ring, so we released it to her morning."