Gwinnett woman gets class ring back 18 years after losing it at Florida beach

When Amy Goetz graduated from Collins Hill High School in 2001, she made sure to get a class ring to remember all she had accomplished.

From competitive swimming to soccer to musical theater, she customized it to ensure it would be a keepsake for decades.

“I spent a lot of time designing that ring,” Goetz told AJC.com. “That ring was a sign of all of my accomplishments.”

Then she went nearly two decades without seeing it. No one knew exactly where it was, including her.

She thought she might’ve lost it during an Atlanta pool party in late 2001. She later learned it was buried somewhere along Jacksonville Beach.

Goetz, who spent almost seven years of her childhood living in Jacksonville, took a trip to the area in 2002 to catch up with old friends and introduce new ones to the city. The ring was in her pocket — until it suddenly wasn’t. At some point, it fell out, getting lost among the Florida sand and ocean water.

“I obviously told my parents and they were upset because they paid for it,” Goetz said. “Every time I see someone graduate and get a ring, I’m reminded of it. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting it remade.”

Credit: Courtesy Amy Goetz

Credit: Courtesy Amy Goetz

For 18 years, the ring weathered hurricanes and millions of beach-goers, but it never re-emerged.

That changed earlier this month when John Porcella, who frequently takes his metal detector to the beach, heard a beep and struck paydirt.

Porcella, who made headlines in 2018 after finding a fallen soldier's bracelet along the same beach, went to work to try to find the ring's owner. On June 14, he posted pictures of it to the Facebook group "Jacksonville Beaches Lost, Found & Stolen."

In addition, he called Collins Hill High School to see if school staff could track down the owner. Goetz’s information was outdated by this point, however, so they were unable to reach her.

His next step was contacting the Gwinnett County Police Department. Since Goetz lives in Suwanee, they were able to give her a call.

“(The officer) said, ‘I can confirm that someone had found your ring at a beach in Jacksonville, Florida,’” Goetz said. “And I don’t know if I screamed or went silent, but I know I screamed internally.”

Police passed along Porcella’s contact information, and he shipped it to her. A few days of anticipation later, she received it June 22.

“I think it’s in the exact same condition as when I lost it,” she said with glee.

📌STORY TIME! I am still in shock!!!! Gwinnett County PD called me this morning. They said they needed to ask me some...

Posted by Amy Goetz on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

AJC.com was unable to reach Porcella, but Goetz said she’s thankful for people like him “with such a kind heart” for going through the effort to reunite her with the ring.

“Needless to say, it has not left my finger,” Goetz said.

Credit: Courtesy Amy Goetz

Credit: Courtesy Amy Goetz