On December 9th, 2011, Gloria DeMent finished her string of errands by visiting Leo Hamel Jewelry Buyers in Escondido, where she sold some unwanted valuables to the office’s manager, Henry Chaplin. Later that day as she and her 88-year-old husband were getting ready to go to a community play, she noticed that the 1.50 carat center diamond from her wedding ring was missing. “We were married 65 years last May,” she wrote. “My first set of rings wore out and after my mother died in 1983, we had a new ring made with her diamond.” Although she was disappointed, at 86 years old, this was not her life’s first misfortune—tragically, she and her husband had lost their 64-year-old son in August 2011. She continued in her letter, “I did treasure [the diamond], but compared to losing a son, it paled in significance.” DeMent alerted Chaplin and the other businesses she’d visited earlier in the day that her diamond had disappeared, but nobody had seen it.
Three weeks later, something sparkly in the parking lot caught a stranger’s eye. He picked it up, suspected it could be valuable, and seeing Leo Hamel Jewelry Buyers just yards away, walked in to inquire about it. “I told him that this stone was indeed a valuable diamond,” said Sara Mullert, a Leo Hamel employee. Mullert told the man—who didn’t give any information about himself, not even a name—that she hadn’t heard of any missing diamond reports, but that it was most likely accidentally dropped by someone on their way in or out of the office. The man said that he’d rather just leave the stone with her, so “I thanked him profusely for his honesty, and told him that I would file a report right away,” Mullert recounted. She immediately phoned her manager Chaplin, who remembered that DeMent had called him weeks ago reporting a lost diamond.
“After nearly two months, I’d given up hope that it would be found,” recalled DeMent, until Chaplin called about the found diamond. She immediately drove to the Escondido Leo Hamel location to inspect it and was astonished when it fit perfectly into her diamond-less setting! A distinct and noticeable flaw in the gemstone confirmed that it was indeed the very diamond that she had lost three weeks earlier. “It is incredible that in all that time, people were parking, coming and going…there was lots of rain, weather, mud, etc. Finding a needle in the proverbial haystack would have been easier,” said a still stunned DeMent. “[Sara] didn’t pocket it, but turned it in to Henry, who remembered that one of his customers had lost her diamond.”
As she, Chaplin, and Mullert weaved their parts of the story together, DeMent was sure she had witnessed something miraculous. “I have always believed in miracles and cannot help thinking that this whole bizarre circumstance has to be… for some purpose,” she penned in a letter of gratitude to Leo Hamel. “It does build one’s faith in humankind….[our] hearts have been warmed by your wonderful young people,” she gushed, “…we [felt] blessed even before the diamond was found, but words cannot describe how touching, how unreal, how miraculous it all seems.”
“The honesty of your employees is very impressive in this day and age of ‘finders-keepers’ or worse,” DeMent wrapped up her letter. “I am so very, very grateful and want to attest to what a valued staff you have.”
The Leo Hamel repair department set DeMent’s diamond back in her ring free of charge. “We were just happy that we were able to reunite Mrs. DeMent with her cherished diamond,” said Chaplin.