MIAMI (CBS4)-A South Florida woman was reunited with her 12-carat yellow diamond ring after a man spotted the ring and returned it.

Part-time Fisher Island residents Roger and Janis Ward said they were on their way to Eagle County Airport in Colorado to catch a flight last February when Janis took off her diamond ring, placed it in her lap and forgot about it. She said the ring feel out of the car when she exited the vehicle.

But Janis Ward did not realize the ring was missing until her and her husband came home in Miami.

Shortly after the incident, Mark Epple of Minneapolis was heading back from a skiing vacation at Beaver Creek when he noticed the ring as he unloaded suitcases.

Epple said it was a ski trip of a lifetime for him, but he didn’t expect his discovery.

“I just saw this object… shiny…metal,” he said.

Believing it was costume jewelry he picked it up, placed it in his pocket and looked at it closer at home. It was only after later inspection did Epple realized the true value of his find.

“I’m thinking that it was costume jewelry or piece of jewelry a child would have,” he said. “It was so big. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

The ring was a yellow diamond Roger Ward had crafted for his wife to commemorate their 30th wedding anniversary.

“It was something that she cherished,” Roger Ward said of the ring.

Janis Ward said she felt unease about losing her prized possession.

“I didn’t sleep all night, just hoping that someone who found it could use it,” she said. “Just thinking good, positive thoughts.”

Airline and airport employees searched the ramps, parking lot and baggage area after the Wards contacted them, Eagle County spokeswoman Kris Friel said.

In the mean time, Epple said he contacted the airport’s lost and found who eventually put him in touch with the Wards.

A Brinks courier delivered the ring to Miami, where the original jeweler made some structural repairs. All the diamonds were intact.

The Wards offered Epple a reward, which he declined. He said he saw the incident as a learning experience for his three children.

“You try to teach them the right thing,” Epple said. “If you return something that belongs to somebody else, you shouldn’t expect to have rewards.”

Roger Ward, however, called Epple’s honesty “extraordinary.” After talking to him, Ward discovered that Epple, an architect who had been laid off, was passionate about skiing in Colorado. He offered the Epples a chance to stay in the Wards’ part-time home in Cordillera, an upscale mountain development near the Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts.

The Epples and a couple of family friends arrived for their ski vacation December 26.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (7)
  1. Lillian says:

    It’s so good to hear some good news for a change! There truly are good people in the world! God bless Mr. Epple!

  2. tim3500 says:

    He should of donated the reward to charity…

    1. Bill says:

      He declined the reward.

  3. Kristina Getch says:

    it was not his to donate to charity! He did obsolutely the right thing

  4. lacia says:

    God bless him for his kind heart! God bless all of them for they are all good people they both did good deeds.

  5. paul f says:

    That ring was designed by H Bredemeier at H H Jewels in Coconut Grove. He does some amazing work.

  6. mel rosenberg diamond co says:

    Good things come to good people-their is a G-D in heaven-True honesty with NO bending is something I have taught my son–Three times in my life I have found money and jewelry and returned to owner.WHAT A GREAT FEELING-

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