Sydney woman’s 100-year-old engagement ring found in river after 18 months

A grateful Sydney couple almost burst into tears when a diver miraculously found their centuries-old engagement ring after it was lost in the murky waters of the Parramatta River for over 18 months.

Joanna Vink was enjoying time on her family boat in September 2021, when she decided to reapply sunscreen and held her engagement ring for a moment with pursed lips — something she’s done “a million times” — but it slipped out.

The ring fell to the ground before “bouncing off at an angle” and bouncing into the air.

Michael and Joanna Vink smile for the camera before losing their engagement ring.

Michael and Joanna Vink have had the engagement ring for 40 years and were “in disbelief” when it fell into the Parramatta River. Source: Delivered

“[The ring travelled] A good two feet and then fell into the water with a ‘thump’,” Joanna told Yahoo News Australia, saying she was “utterly stunned” by the “crazy” turn of events at Five Dock Bay.

After quickly snapping photos of their boat’s location and sadly informing her husband, the pair turned to professionals in hopes they could retrieve their antique ring.

Unsuccessful attempts to find the engagement ring

The couple arranged three professional search missions, and despite “hours and hours and hours” of searching each time, the “Vinks’ hopes were dashed.” Even a desperate attempt by Michael to find the ring on her smut with a pool shovel still left the couple empty-handed.

“It’s like losing the ring over and over again when someone tries to look for it,” Joanna shared.

Eighteen months had passed since they lost the ring when a man they “had never heard of before” approached them and heard their story through a mutual contact.

A metal detector diver joins the search

Nick Richards, a metal detector diver, has loved finding hidden treasure for 25 years and hoped he could put his hobby to good use in the Vinks’ cause, but Michael and Joanna didn’t hold out much hope.

Accompanied by friend Stuart Allan, the couple embarked on a six-hour search for the ring last Sunday, reaching a depth of five meters in water that was described as having “very little visibility”.

“I think anyone who gets an invitation to dive the Parramatta River should have an excuse. It’s not comfortable by any means,” Nick joked to Yahoo News, before adding. “I think it’s a sense of adventure that drives me to do it.”

After hearing the ‘right’ sound from his metal detector and feeling the soft silk in the very last grid he was searching, Nick finally made contact with his target and said the feeling was ‘indescribably good’.

On the left is Nick Richards in a wetsuit holding the engagement ring and on the right is a close-up of the ring.

Nick Richards has found over 400 pieces of jewelry and explains that the personal challenge of each quest drives him to the next. Source: Delivered

Finally reunited: “It was wonderful”

Attending an event in another Sydney area, Joanna explained that her husband was “holding out his phone with this weird look on his face” and looked like he was about to cry.

There was only one image on the phone screen – her engagement ring in Nick’s hand.

She told Yahoo News the moment was truly “wonderful” and felt an intense sense of gratitude to Nick for his extensive efforts.

Now that the pair were reunited with the ring and securely reattached it to Joanna’s finger, she likened the reunion experience to a long-lost friend. Relieved of the sadness she felt for over a year, she looks forward to enjoying the guilt-free time on the boat.

“I wasn’t surprised to have it back. I was surprised not to have had it at all,” she said.

“I wasn’t even aware that I had been going to the boat for 18 months and somehow repressing that lonely feeling of sadness,” she continued.

“I’m so glad to have it back”.

Michael and Joanna Vink sit at the top table at their wedding reception in 1984.

Michael and Joanna Vink on their wedding anniversary in 1984. Source: Supplied

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