Retailer of the Week: Mountz Jewelers

This week’s Retailer of the Week honor goes to Pennsylvania’s Mountz Jewelers. A couple from Mountz’s Carlisle store—the jeweler has three locations in the Keystone State—lost a Hearts On Fire diamond engagement ring. With no insurance policy in place, the couple was faced with two choices: finding the ring at a swimming spot in the Florida Keys or replacing it…for the original retail price of $10,000. Being a young couple with a sense of adventure, the newly engaged duo opted for the former option. And with the help of Mountz Jewelers’ staff, a rental company, and determined family members—miraculously—the ring was found.

YouTube videos documented the ring search and Mountz Jewelers publicly honored the couple’s jewelry adventure last year. To this day, the retailer continues to benefit from repeat visits and referrals coming from the prominent Carlisle couple, family members, circle of friends, and business associates. Here’s the story of the arduous search and the eventual recovery:   

Like many couples, Dave and Jenny got engaged during the Christmas season, back in 2008. The couple showed off their Hearts On Fire diamond ring while sharing the news and talking about the next year’s wedding. In February 2009, when they went swimming in the Florida Keys, Jenny was, naturally, wearing her new engagement ring.

“She dove into the water with the ring on and surfaced without it,” says Tonia Ulsh, chief operating officer for Mountz Jewelers. “It happened that fast. The cold water constricted blood and skin cells in her finger and the ring just slipped off.” 

Ulsh—who had sold Dave and Jenny the diamond ring—was surprised when Dave called the store three months later asking detailed questions about a metal detector’s ability to differentiate between precious and less-precious metals. That’s when the penny dropped for Ulsh.

Metal detectors, at least back then, weren’t Ulsh’s area of expertise. She suggested the couple try a local rental center. “I later found out that when family members helping the couple told the rental-center customer-service representative the lost ring story, his response was, ‘I’ve rented out metal detectors to thousands of couples facing the exact same problem and not one has come back with a success story.’”

Undeterred, the couple decided to continue the search with the help of family members who documented the quest for the lost ring. The first of four videos is a short 15-second video taken from the rear of a speedboat showing the wake of an outboard motor that established the distance from shore to the couple’s swimming spot in the Keys. This video has received 173 unique views on YouTube.

The Lengths People will Go to Find a Mountz Jeweler’s Ring (1 of 4)

The second video was significantly longer. For 75 seconds YouTube viewers can observe Casey, Dave’s brother, using the rented metal detector under water. Oddly, of the four videos, including the final two when the ring was found, this underwater use of the metal detector has to date received the most unique views on YouTube (565 and counting).

The Lengths People will Go to Find a Mountz Jeweler’s Ring (2 of 4)

Weeks had passed since the weekend when the ring was lost. Dave and Jenny hadn’t given up, but three lengthy searches for the ring—including a 90-minute search the day it happened—weren’t giving the couple much hope.

That’s when Casey and his wife, Abby, joined the search. (Coincidentally, Casey is married to Jenny’s sister.) Although Dave and Jenny tried to find solace in not placing too much emphasis on material things, what the ring symbolized and Jenny’s guilt over the loss provided motivation to take the ring search to the next level.

Based on Dave and Jenny’s input, Casey created a grid of the swimming area, and Casey and Abby took it upon themselves to create and follow a search grid to expedite the recovery.

Although searching for a (comparatively) small diamond ring in a large body of water was a formidable task, the ring was lost in a seaweed bed that had been torn up by a boat with twin propellers, leaving a distinctive train track–like scar in its wake. The couple caught another break with the search confined to shallow waters on a sandbar. 

Narrowing down the search area to the damaged seaweed bed on a sandbar helped significantly. As luck would have it, Casey and Abby found the ring their first time out using their grid and a highly sensitive metal detector.

The Lengths People will Go to Find a Mountz Jeweler’s Ring (3 of 4)

The Lengths People will Go to Find a Mountz Jeweler’s Ring (4 of 4)

It took several weeks, but the ring was found in early March 2009. Casey and Abby triumphantly returned the metal detector to the rental center, while Dave and Jenny made a beeline for Mountz Jewelers.

“We were delighted for the couple and gave them a complimentary resizing and cleaning,” says Ulsh. “Dave proposed to Jenny again with the recently found ring.”

But Ulsh and the folks at Mountz Jewelers wanted to do a little something more for the couple and family members who’d plugged the jeweler in the titles of all the search-and-rescue videos—all of which were uploaded to YouTube in July 2009, the month before the couple’s wedding. So that same month, Mountz Jewelers treated Dave, Jenny, family, friends, and co-workers to a Harrisburg Senators game. The minor league team’s stadium is where Mountz Jewelers has held several “diamond digs,” events where brides-to-be dig in and around the baseball stadium’s infield to find a buried diamond.  

“We bought out an entire section for Dave and Jenny’s group,” says Ulsh. “At that particular game we were hosting a diamond dig. We called Dave and Jenny as well as Casey and Abby to the infield after the game and before the event and told everyone their story. We ended the presentation by telling diamond dig participants that finding a diamond in a baseball infield would be much easier than finding one in an ocean. Then we presented a decorative William Henry pocket knife to Casey.”  

In August, Ulsh was invited to the wedding, where best man Casey delivered a speech “almost entirely dedicated to the diamond ring story,” she recalls. “He weaved in a lot of relevant metaphors of the adventure dedicated to the newlywed couple. It was very sweet and Casey wasn’t shy about mentioning our store several times.”

Carlisle, where the couple resides, is a small, tight-knit city. Dave and Jenny are well known in their community—he’s a successful Realtor and she’s a respected teacher—and they continue to shop at Mountz. So do Casey and Abby, and the two couples’ family members, friends, and co-workers—all of whom continue to tell the ring story.

“We still get a lot of repeat business and many referrals from Dave and Jenny and their family, friends and co-workers,” says Ulsh. “And I don’t know of any other jewelry store in Pennsylvania, Florida, or the country that has such a great happy-ending story to share with bridal customers. And it’s a great way to sell a young bridal couple on jewelry insurance.”  

JCK News Director