Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Searching for buried treasure: A Ring Finder's story

St. John's resident Derrick Turner says for him, metal detecting goes beyond a hobby — it gives him a rush.

Derrick Turner and his dog Cassie comb beaches for lost items

When it comes to metal detecting, St. John's resident Derrick Turner says it goes beyond a hobby — it gives him a rush.

"Maybe it's the boy in me, hoping to find that treasure chest," he said.

Derrick Turner says metal detecting gives him a rush — because he never knows what he may find. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"Every time the sound goes off on the metal detector, I don't know what I'm going to pull up."

Metal detectorists

Turner is part of a group called The Ring Finders, an online global directory of metal detecting enthusiasts who help people find their irreplaceable and cherished lost treasures.

He joined the group about four years ago, and has been called to help find engagement and wedding rings, keys, cellphones — basically anything metal.

The Ring Finders is an online global directory of metal detecting enthusiasts, who help people find their cherished lost treasures. (

"I've even been called to find people's septic tanks in their backyards," he said.

When he finds a lost ring, Turner said he gets a total adrenaline rush.

"I pick it up … it almost feels like it's mine," he said.

"I just get that rush that, I know someone's going to be very excited. I'm shaking when I bring it over to them, then the smile happens on their face, and … tears and whatnot. It's quite an exciting experience."

Happy endings

Turner said he's been interested in metal detecting since a young age. About 10 years ago, he decided to invest in the proper equipment.

One of Derrick Turner's happy clients, after he found his ring under a newly-planted shrub in St. Philip's. (Derrick Turner)

He said one of his first calls came from a couple who lost an engagement ring at a dog park.

"Through playing with the dog and throwing the ball, they must have [thrown] their ring as well. So I went out to the dog park, and started scanning, [and] within 15 minutes, I found her engagement ring," he said.

"Lots of smiles, a few hugs, a few tears, and it's just a wonderful experience."

Family affair

Turner's metal detecting has since turned into something of a family affair.

Derrick Turner and his dog Cassie comb the beach for lost treasures at Rotary Sunshine Park in St. John's. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

When he and his dog Cassie go on a search, she tries to lend a helping paw.

"It just happened [one day] … she saw us digging, and decided to jump in. So we decided to go with it," Turner said. 

"I'd walk down the beach, and we'd hit a sound, I tell her dig, and she's right on it."

Derrick Turner's dog Cassie will dig on command when the metal detector starts beeping. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Turner's two daughters have also caught a bit of the metal detectorist bug, and they sometimes go on digs at playgrounds and beaches.

A few years ago, on a family trip to Sandy Pond in Terra Nova, one of his girls found a camera storage card, containing more than 2,800 photos, including pictures of a wedding and a family vacation.

A handful of clues and about a half dozen phone calls later, they found the owner.

"They were so excited," Turner said. "I couldn't wipe the grin off [my daughter's] face. It was great."

Ring Finders unite

Turner said he's learned a lot from being a part of The Ring Finders.

I definitely get rewarded first and foremost by the ability to reunite people with their jewelry.- Derrick Turner

Members share metal detecting techniques for different types of terrain, and swap tips on the types of equipment they use, Turner said, and the group wants to turn metal detecting into more of a specialty.

"I've often heard people when they lose their ring, they go and rent a metal detector or buy one," Turner said.

"And sometimes I've heard people looking for hours and hours and hours, and I show up, and five minutes, I find it. There's definitely a skill involved."

Rewarding experiences

In terms of rewards, Turner said he'll have a discussion with a client before he begins his search, about what that person would like to give or what they can afford to give, for his metal detecting services.

"But I definitely get rewarded first and foremost by the ability to reunite people with their jewelry and their rings," he said.

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Jen White

CBC News

Jen White is a reporter and producer with CBC News in St. John's, and the host of the CBC podcast One in Six. You can reach her at