By Claire Walla
There are very few things that can upset a new bride. But, hearing that her husband has just lost his wedding ring is one of them.
In 2007, three years after his wedding and still a relative newlywed, Nick Kardaras decided to go for a swim. He and his new bride, Lucy, were living on the North Fork at the time, so he drove his car down to Nassau Point beach in Cutchogue and prepared, like usual, for a late-afternoon dip. “I normally go swimming at dusk,” he said.
But, this aquatic excursion was different from the start.
“I hate to say this, but there was a sketchy-looking character parked by my car,” Nick explained. At the time, Nick said he was driving a Jeep with doors that didn’t quite lock. While he had been in the habit of taking his wedding band off before diving into the surf—advice his wife said she instated from the start—this time he thought differently of it. “This guy was drinking a Colt 45,” he continued, which peaked his concern. “I thought, I’m not going to go swimming and leave my ring behind with this guy!”
Nick decided to wear his ring all the way into the water. At first, his plan seemed to work. The ring stayed bound to his finger as he tread water and propelled through the current.
“But, as I was swimming back, it started to fall. It was almost like slow-motion,” he described, saying that he watched his platinum, diamond-encrusted ring sink down to the sandy bay bottom.
As if jogging his brain for an appropriate euphemism, Nick momentarily paused when asked how his wife reacted to the news, but eventually admitted, “I was in the dog house for a certain period of time.” (It was a phrase Lucy herself repeated.)
Not willing to give-in to the notion that he had just lost his wedding ring, Nick went back to the site every day for about a month. Each time, he would descend the steps that led to the beach and count precisely 45 steps out and four steps to the side until he was nearly chest-deep in the water. Armed merely with a pair of goggles and a pan, which he used to scoop-up the sand, he searched for the lost ring. To no avail.
“I’ve had this empty void on my finger for the past few years,” he said in a recent interview. He and his wife had talked about getting a replacement band, but this diamond-encrusted ring had sentimental value for them. The two had spent a lot of time in Greece (Nick speaks the language fluently) and had purchased the ring there. In fact, he said it was inspired by Greek design. In the end, he Lucy essentially put-off finding an adequate replacement. “In some weird way, I kind of held-out hope that I was going to get it again,” Nick said.
The landscape changed in 2009. About a year and a half ago, Nick was contacted by someone who claimed to have recovered his lost ring. No, not that ring. His high school graduation ring.
“I had forgotten that I had even had a school ring!” Nick explained. He assumes he lost the piece of jewelery during what he called a “night of recreation” at a bar in Binghampton, where he often went to visit friends. As it turns out, the discovery happened shortly after a tragic shooting at an immigration center in the area, when a local man with a metal detector was looking for shell casings and just happened to come across the ring—buried in six inches of sand, where it had been for 21 years. The man gave it to Nick’ high school alumni association, which sent it to the East Ender.
“I thought that I was on a good roll, finding rings,” the current Sag Harbor resident explained. So, when he noticed a truck driving through the Sag Harbor area advertising metal-detecting services, he introduced himself to the metal detector himself, long-time Sag Harbor resident David Cosgrove, and thought he’d put Cosgrove’s expertise to the test.
Last Thursday, July 15 Cosgrove and his metal detector accompanied Nick, his wife, Lucy, and their twin sons, Ari and Alexi, to the site of his ill-fated swim four years before. After descending the steps to Nassau Point beach, they counted 45 steps out and four steps to the side. “I remembered the numbers,” Nick said. “I had kept them in my head all those years.”
Cosgrove had previously implored the family not to get their hopes up. Though he had discovered plenty of precious items before, he emphasized there’s never any telling what the sands will turn up. Besides, most of the rings he’d found were dirtied or split in two. In the first two scoops the scavengers recovered a rusty nail. But the third time was, as they say, the charm.
“He found it in about 10 minutes!” Nick beamed.
“I was just overjoyed,” Lucy added, saying that the public beach was filled with people cheering as Nick slipped the platinum band back on his finger. Coincidentally, she said she and Nick had been thinking about buying a replacement ring just this year. She pondered buying one as a Christmas gift, or even a September birthday present for her husband. So, in a way, this fated discovery happened “just in the nick of time.”
In addition to replacing the void that plagued his left hand, Nick was excited by the fact that the bay had kept the ring “in pristine condition.” He wanted to thank Cosgrove for his efforts and asked him how much he should pay him for his services. To his surprise, Cosgrove declined payment. (He also politely said he would “pass on the offer” to be interviewed for this article.)
Instead, Nick recalled, “he said just pay it forward.”