Finding Lost Rings and Jewelry – Recoveries with Expert Metal Detectorist John Favano

Find Lost Rings and Jewelry with Metal Detector

Detectorist John Favano is often the first one they call in South New Jersey if a ring, necklace, keys, phone, or other metal item is lost and needs to be found. John has been doing recoveries for over 6 years, reuniting over 185 items with their owners. He has been featured in several news broadcasts, newspapers, and documentaries. John is a wealth of knowledge regarding metal detecting and how to get into doing recoveries and finding lost items.

Even though we have interviewed John in the past on beach detecting tips and his preferred Minelab Equinox settings, we decided to interview him again to discuss best practices for doing metal detecting recoveries. For those who know John, he is always open to sharing detecting tips and getting into the recovery side of detecting and helping other friend detectorists where he can.

A Bit About Detectorist and Recovery Specialist John Favano

What locations in New Jersey do you recover lost items?
Some of the areas I recover lost items are Brigantine, Ventnor, Margate, Longport, Ocean City, Strathmere, Sea Isle City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Diamond Beach & Cape May.

How did you get into recovering jewelry, phone, precious coins, and other items?
I enjoy metal detecting and the thrill of the hunt! Also, I like to see other people happy, so it was almost a natural fit for me to help people recover their lost rings.

Besides jewelry, phones, property markers, and family stashes of money hidden in backyards, what else have you been asked to find with your metal detector?
Besides the common things such as keys, smart watches, EarPods, USB sticks, and SD cards, I’ve been asked to find hearing aids, cochlear implant devices, and electric dog fence wire.

Metal Detecting Recoveries Best Practices

Gold VDI numbers are all over the place; if someone tells you that they lost a gold ring or chain, what questions do you ask to determine the VDI and tones you will concentrate on when swinging?
Some of the questions I ask when someone hires me to find gold jewelry with my detector are as follows:

  • What type of gold, 24K, 18K 10K, white, yellow, or rose gold?
  • I ask about the size of the item, how thick it is, design, stones or no stones. A man’s large wedding band sounds much different from a woman’s thin wedding band. A ring with stones sounds different from a ring that has no stones.

Recovering the item is key, even with all the data. I will dig most targets to make sure I don’t miss the lost item.

When someone gives you a spot where they lost the item, what other questions do you ask to get a feel for how they moved or how accurate the spot they mentioned could be of where they lost the item?

  • I always ask what they were doing when they lost the item. 
  • I ask if they have any pictures of where they were sitting on the beach. Sometimes they will say no, but I ask for any social media posts, such as selfies or Instagram posts of sunsets or waves. I can look at the geolocation data of the photos and narrow down where they were.

These are just a few of the questions. I have more depending on the type of item I am recovering and the location where I am metal detecting.

If someone calls you about a small diamond earring, we all know how hard those are to find with a metal detector. How do you nicely explain to the person who lost it that ‌it will be a difficult recovery?
Stud earrings are difficult to find with some metal detectors. It is the amount of metal on the stud that makes a difference. I have found them, but it really takes some metal detecting skills to locate them. I make sure I explain in detail to the person who called how and why they are hard to find to set expectations. 

How do you go about detecting the area where they lost it? Do you grid or go in a spiral or other?
Most always, a grid pattern with my detector, starting in the general area where the ring was lost.

How do you handle people being in the way? Kids getting near the coil being curious, just a busy beach, or the person who lost the item following you stressed, hoping that you find it? For the few recoveries I have done, this was a big problem. I have purposely told the person who lost it I would come back that evening or early morning when the beach is not busy. However, what if this isn’t an option and you need to try recovering the item with people around?
Kids will always be curious about metal detectors, as well as what you are searching for. However, I always ask them to stand back. As for a crowded beach, depending on the area, people know that I’m here looking for a lost item and will generally move a few feet to let me conduct the search. Most people are kind, and you just have to ask and be respectful.

If you can’t find an item for someone, how do you leave it, or what do you say to comfort them?
I will return to search with my metal detector again. Sometimes the conditions are not ideal and sometimes the item wasn’t there in the first place. I will always do my best to keep searching for a lost item and get it to those who lost it.

What other tips can you share pertaining to doing metal detecting recoveries?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. The more information that you have, the better your chance of recovery.
  • If you are going to get into doing beach recoveries, make sure you get good at understanding tides, wind, sand grain, and how objects move and settle due to all factors.

An example of a difficult wedding ring recovery. A canal with soft mud bottom where one would sink in many feet if you tried to walk. John was innovative and came up with a quick solution to get across the mud and found the ring.

I would like to thank John Favano, Detectorist, Recovery Specialist, and long-standing member of The Ring Finders, for sharing his insights on doing recoveries. If you have lost your ring, necklace, keys, phone, cash stash, or other items and would like to use Johns’s services, please reach out to him at or call him at 215-850-0188. For metal detectorists who want to learn more about the recovery process, please join Focus Speed’s Facebook group and ask your questions there or here in the comment section, and John will answer them.

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  1. Some lost rings are probably found by detectorists other than the ring finders. Maybe the ringfinders should post descriptions of rings not found by them so others have a way of returning them to the owners.

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