On Friday, the 27th of March, Marco Hautakoski was metal detecting with his best friend from high school, Jetro Minkkinen, at a large park in Helsinki Finland. Metal detecting is their passion, but also something to do since Finland like most countries were restricting peoples movement and encouraging social distance to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Both using their Minelab Equinox 600’s, detecting for nearly four hours, they had found lots of coins, a couple junk rings, and a tiny piece of silver jewelry.
Due to being exhausted, Marco and Jetro decided to head back to the section of the park where they had started. The section had lots of good signals earlier in the evening and they dug up many European coins and other items. Keeping social distance, Marco was ahead of Jetro by one hundred yards. Marco reached the first spot again, where he began detecting a promising 10×10 yard area which gave good signals. At that point, he was so numb and exhausted that Marco just didn’t have the energy to dig up every signal the Equinox indicated. All of a sudden the detector gave a solid 18-19 VDI, and even though in Finland the 18-19 VDI signal can be almost anything from a tiny coin to a bottle cap, Marco decided to dig this signal.
Digging 5 to 10 centimeters down, Marco’s eyes literally popped out as he realized it was a huge gold ring! He waved to Jetro signaling to come to the spot and they began examining the ring. It turned out to be some sort of American class ring. They kept sweeping that area a bit more and Marco managed to find two more rings; one silver, and one brass along with more European coins.
Happy but exhausted they went home. The next day Marco began investigating the ring a bit further. On the inner circle of the ring along with a gold hallmark, Marco discovered a carved name: Rudel Antoine Drears. Marco instantly knew that he had to find the ring’s owner – or at least try to.
Turning to Facebook and the help of an American friend, Damon, they searched the name ‘Rudel Antoine Drears’ which returned one hit with the same name, only the middle name was missing. It was the name of a New York Artist (Jazz Pianist, Composer, Vocalist and Actor). Marco, with the aid of Damon, wrote the man a message via Facebook messenger and asked the man if he had ever been to Finland, and had he possibly lost a class ring on that trip? The man replied “That he had never been to Finland” and instead inquired if there was a school logo on the ring? Marco had to give him a ‘no’ for an answer, and Marco felt disappointed because he was sure he had found the right owner of the ring. While it would have been too easy for Marco’s first try to have successfully found the right Rudel Drears, Marco sent him some pictures of the ring anyway. And after a while, Rudel, then replied to Marco with the words: “Oh my God! That IS my ring!”. Still, Marco had to be sure, so he asked Rudel what his middle name was, and he replied with the same middle name that was carved on the ring: “Antoine”. BINGO! The owner had been found!
Marco had to ask Rudel how he had lost his ring. Rudel replied that he dropped it off at the local goldsmith to be cleaned back in 1992. Unfortunately, the company went out of business, and Rudel hadn’t seen his ring ever since. It is still a big mystery how the ring wound up in a park in Helsinki, Finland.
The spot where Marco found the ring is also a bit of a funny coincidence. The park begins right behind the Helsinki Opera House. Rudel, (being a Jazz Pianist, Composer, Vocalist and Actor,) was from the high school of Music and Art in New York, where he graduated. If you look at the photos you can see the trumpet engraved on the ring because he played the trumpet in high school. So music connects the location where the ring was found and the happy owner, an interesting musical coincidence!
Marco would like to say “A big thanks goes to our friend Damon, back in the States, for assisting us in finding the ring’s owner”. And “I also want to thank my best buddy, Jetro, for also doing internet searches and being there that night with me as a trusty wing-man”. Stating “Overall, this ring is an awesome find, which I have also rated number 3 on my bucket list of finds since I have begun metal detecting”
Due to COVID-19 and Finland being locked down, the already well-traveled ring will take some time to get back to Rudel. Marco is in contact with Rudel and is making sure it will get returned.
Joanna Jana Laznicka, a Czech-Canadian residing in Southern California, is passionate about all things associated with metal detecting. She mainly detects on the West Coast, from Southern California to Northern British Columbia. As the founder of Focus Speed, her goal is to bring quality content to metal detectorists.