Treasure hunter digs up $40K ring, finds original owners: ‘I couldn’t believe it’

Metal detecting expert Joseph Cook posted the engagement ring on social media in hopes owner would respond

The chances that treasure hunters strike gold are typically rare, but one Florida man who made a big sentimental find celebrated its discovery by finding its original owners.

"I thought [it was] just a normal day, thought it might be a nickel," metal detecting enthusiast Joseph Cook, also known as "Joe Digger" on social media, said on "Mornings with Maria" Tuesday. "And I dig it up, and about six inches under the ground, I pulled out this beautiful, huge diamond ring. It was amazing. I couldn't believe it."

While searching the St. Augustine Beach area following turbulent tides that came from Hurricane Ian, Cook dug up a diamond ring worth $40,000 and "not even for a minute" thought about keeping it.

"Honestly, I had no clue it was even worth that much. I literally put it in my scooter, I thought maybe a grand, two grand or something," Cook explained. "It was in my scooter for a week until I took it to a jewelry store to get them to look at it."


Upon learning its value, Cook took to his social media pages and made a public service announcement in hopes the original owners would see the posts. In addition, Cook contacted about 100 jewelry stores in the state with photos and descriptions of the ring.

Man with metal detector on beach

By using a metal detector on Florida's beaches, Joseph Cook found a lost engagement ring that was worth $40,000. (Getty Images)

"I emailed stores all the way from here, up to almost Georgia, down past Daytona. And a couple of weeks go by, didn't hear anything of it," Cook said. "I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to be able to return it or not."

Then came the call Cook was waiting for – a husband, who got a tip from his jeweler, claiming it was his wife’s lost engagement ring and sending the wedding photos to prove it. Cook expressed he was eager and "really excited" to return the ring.

"They were pretty happy. The wife was on a FaceTime call, and she just said, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it,’ and then she just started crying," Cook told The New York Post last week.

Cook has recovered a number of other rings found buried deep along Florida’s coastlines. Some he wears around as a necklace, serving as a reminder of his mission to return meaningful treasures back home.

"If you've lost a ring anywhere in Florida, maybe go to my channel," Cook encouraged. "Some of them are diamond rings. They're all posted online. I've emailed multiple jewelry stores, but every single find that I find, I try to get them back to the owner."

Cook found his passion for treasure hunting after being gifted his first metal detector by his parents at a young age, and was often inspired by his uncle who also picked up the hobby as a child.

"If it wouldn't be for them, I wouldn't be doing all this today," Cook said.


In other beach digs, Cook has reportedly found items from Apple Watches to old Victorian-era rings and Spanish relics, previously telling Fox News his finds have totaled more than $60,000.

"Last year we found an eight-foot-tall ship anchor about four feet deep in the sand," Cook noted. "I did not get to dig that out. The park rangers wouldn't let me. But, it was cool to even be recorded."