Vivene Ninnes is getting the best birthday present ever when she turns 47 tomorrow.

Her husband Jeff is giving back her diamond engagement ring she lost six years ago on a Northland beach.

Mr Ninnes, who confesses he's not the most romantic, is not quite sure if he will go down on one knee and present the one-off designed ring to his wife of 15 years, but he reckons at least he will put it inside a card and give it to her.

It's a fairytale ending to a remarkable story of love lost and found.


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Until last week the Auckland couple thought they would never see the ring again after Mrs Ninnes lost the engagement ring and her wedding ring in the surf at Long beach, near Russell, six years ago.

The couple had deliberated over the ring design for months before it was made and had chosen a first class diamond as a centrepiece to the 18-carat ring that also featured sapphires.

They reported the rings lost to police at Russell police station and made an insurance claim. They had replicas made of the originals, never thinking they would see the rings again.

As luck would have it metal detectorist and Whangarei grandfather Bernard Patterson was with a mate on Long Beach in February and found the ring.

The honest 83-year-old handed over the ring to police and staff in the lost property office at Whangarei police station began their detective work to trace the owners.

Their work lead them to a jeweller in Auckland and eventually the original owners. However as they had been paid by the insurance company the ring was handed over to the insurance company.

Mr Ninnes last week tried to contact the insurance company last week but had not heard from anyone as to where the ring was.


The Northern Advocate made a few phone calls and on Friday an insurance company official contacted Mr Ninnes to tell him they had found the ring that was due to be auctioned off within a few weeks.

Yesterday Mr Ninnes was summoned to the downtown Auckland office of NZI insurance where he was handed the ring.

"They told us we could buy the ring back at the estimated start point at the auction which was $800," said a delighted Mr Ninnes.

The ring, which didn't look worse for wear, was still in the plastic bag it would have gone to auction in.

"I'm really still gobsmacked it was discovered six years later and that some one was so honest and handed it over.

And if it hadn't been for the Advocate we might have never got it back"

The couple were yet to decide what would happen to the ring but one option was to take the first class diamond out of the original and replace the replica diamond as the ring was a tighter fit and there was a lesser chance of it being lost.

When Mr Patterson learned the ring had been returned to the original owners he was delighted.

"That's corker.

It's terrific they have the ring back and it makes it all worthwhile and I've achieved something out of this."