Nova Scotia

Missing a $2,000 ring? Search on for owner of gold band found in donated purse

A customer at a thrift store made quite a find recently — a valuable gold ring inside a donated leather purse. If it's yours, the SPCA, which runs the second-hand store, wants to hear from you.

'We would really like to get a beloved family item back to somebody,' said SPCA retail operations director

The ring is being stored in this box inside a safe at the SPCA. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

The woman who discovered a unique ring tucked inside the pocket of a purse at a Dartmouth, N.S., thrift store last week didn't follow the saying "finders keepers, losers weepers."

Neither does the SPCA, the animal welfare charity that runs the store. It wants to find the owner of the delicate gold band in case it was left in the bag by accident.

As it turns out, the jewelry's value far exceeds the $12 price tag for the used leather purse — it's been appraised at more than $2,000.

"The customer was very honest and brought it back to our cashier and said, 'Oh my gosh, I found this item,'" said Courtney Barber, the SPCA's provincial director of retail operations and branding.

Barber posted on Instagram about the search for the ring's rightful owner. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Now the SPCA hopes to find the person who donated the bag in hopes it will lead them to the owner of the ring, which store staff believe could be a family heirloom.

"That's kind of where all of our minds had gone when we first saw it," Barber said. "We would really like to get a beloved family item back to somebody, if that's the case."

Waiting for the right call

Since Barber posted on Instagram about the hunt for the ring's owner, a few calls have come in. But no one has correctly identified the unique features that only the rightful owner would know.

The only hints Barber is providing are that the ring's stones form a unique pattern, and it's definitely old, perhaps from the 1950s or 60s.

Instead, she's describing the purse in the hopes it leads to the mystery donor.

It's a wine-coloured leather cross-body purse made by Roots. The bag was donated sometime between March 2 and 5.

The store is almost completely volunteer-run. 

"The ladies do their absolute best they can to sort through items, but they can't always go through every little nook and cranny," said Barber.

The SPCA encourages donations to be left in a bin during specific hours. (Robert Short/CBC)

From time to time, a donor will call about a ring slipping off their finger while cleaning out their purses, but usually that call comes in right away.

Will be sold if no one comes forward

Barber has stored the gold band in a safe while they search for the owner. It's unclear how long they'll hang on to it, but if unclaimed, it will eventually be sold.

She said SPCA donors tend to be older and very generous, so it's possible the ring was intended as a gift to the animal welfare charity. 

Since the pandemic, they've had a furniture donation that brought in $6,000. They've also had gifts of jewelry that raised $500 to $800 apiece.

But Barber would like to be doubly sure. She's asking people to get in touch by emailing her at cbarber@spcans.ca.

"We would hate for it to be somebody's great-grandmother's grandmother's vintage ring, and it be lost like that," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Chiu is a reporter in Nova Scotia and hosts Atlantic Tonight on Saturdays at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. If you have a story idea for her, contact her at elizabeth.chiu@cbc.ca.

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