FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — The ring in the Target parking lot glinted up at Sadie Sidotti with a gem so huge she and her husband assumed they’d spotted a child’s dress-up jewelry.
“It looked good,” Sadie Sidotti said.
“It looked too good,” added her husband, Joe.
Believing the April 28 find had little value, Sadie Sidotti considered throwing away the ring, but instead slipped it onto her pinkie finger and decided to double-check its worth with an expert.
It’s a good thing she did.
The jeweler valued the ring at more than the cost of the house the Sidottis had bought as a young couple in the 1960s. More than most of the cars they’ve owned. In fact, the jeweler valued the ring at enough money to fund a vacation cruise for them or, for that matter, the entire family.
Sadie Sidotti had stumbled across a 1.5-carat diamond ring with an estimated value of more than $20,000. But the Sidottis said they never considered cashing in on the find.
“You’ve gotta do the right thing,” Joe Sidotti said.
So a few days later, the Sidottis returned the ring to its owners, a young couple who planned to marry in about three weeks. The engaged pair rushed to the Sidottis’ home in Point of Rocks within an hour of learning the diamond had turned up, bringing a thank-you note with them.
“Words cannot express our gratitude. We are simply so very thankful for you. You two will always be in my prayers,” the card read. The couple also gave the Sidottis a $300 reward, Sadie Sidotti said.
The woman who lost the ring — a ring that was insured for more than $22,000 — told the Sidottis she thought she might never see it again. She’d slid off the platinum band and stuffed it into her pocket while shopping on April 26, and that was the last she had seen of it, she told the Sidottis. When she realized it was missing, she reported the loss to Target in Frederick, but had a harder time breaking the news to her fiance.
Meanwhile, the Sidottis, who like to get a little extra exercise by parking at a distance from stores, found the gemstone in the far reaches of the lot. Over the next few days, Joe Sidotti called the store several times to see if anyone had reported losing the ring, but with no success.
Sadie Sidotti was anything but comfortable watching over the discovery, tucking the jewelry into a pouch and hiding it in the dresser drawer.
“I was afraid to leave it in the house,” she said. “It’s scary having something that valuable.”
Then, on Sunday, another phone call to the store turned up a contact number for the ring’s owners. Speaking with the woman minutes later, Joe Sidotti said he heard her start crying when she learned her engagement ring was safe, though slightly warped by being run over during its stint in the parking lot.
Sadie Sidotti, known for her sharp eyes, said she is involved in an ongoing competition with her grandson to see how much change they can discover in parking lots in one year. She said she’s not about to add $20,000 to her tally, though.
“Unfortunately, that doesn’t count,” she said.
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)