$30K diamond ring returned after 14 years, say N.M. cops

This diamond ring lost in 1997 was returned to a New Mexico woman Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(CBS/AP) SANTA FE, N.M. - A $30,000 diamond engagement ring that was lost since 1997 has been reunited with its rightful owner, weeks before it was set to be auctioned off, say Santa Fe police.

Police say the ring was returned to its owner Wednesday, after being stored in an evidence room for more than two years. The woman said she lost the diamond ring while making dinner some 14 years ago.

Her prized possession has made quite a trip.

Police say the ring ended up in their hands after a couple tried to sell it to a local jeweler in 2009, according to CBS affiliate KRQE. The store owner thought it was suspicious because they only wanted a few hundred bucks, and he knew it was worth tens of thousands.

When police were called the couple took off, leaving the 3-carat pear-shaped diamond behind.

Lt. Louis Carlos told KRQE that for two years not one call came into the Santa Fe Police Department about the ring. In May, the department decided to auction it off, but before they did, they let the public have one more look at it.

Carlos said 25 people called or stopped by Santa Fe police headquarters. They all claimed it was their ring. Detectives listened to every story.

"We had stories - from it was burglarized," Carlos said. "Stories that it was taken from them," he told KRQE.

Carlos said the majority of the possible owners were eliminated because they didn't have proof it was theirs.

Finally came the call from a woman not only claiming it was hers, but saying she could prove it.

"First words out of her mouth were, 'This is my ring,'" Carlos said.

The woman, who did not want her name made public, told Carlos it was an engagement ring. She had bought it in her name on her credit.

She still had the paperwork to prove it was hers, including a receipt - not to mention a picture of the long-lost diamond engagement ring on her finger.