Susan "Sue" Owen '94 March 14, 2017 5:38 PM updated: March 15, 2017 1:47 PM
Sometimes sleuths really do use a magnifying glass.
When a Class of ’09 Aggie Ring was brought Monday into the Ring Office at The Association of Former Students, Ring program manager Julie Scamardo saw something no one else had.
That may have led The Association to identify the owner; confirmation is pending, and this story will be updated as soon as that happens.
An image of the Ring in a San Antonio pawn shop had been circulating on Facebook, thanks to two Aggie police officers, and its description indicated the engraved name inside had been scratched out.
On Saturday, Dr. Clifford Dorn ’81 decided to buy the Ring. “I lost my Ring several years back just for a week and it drove me crazy,” Dorn said. He wanted to try to get this Ring back to its owner, he said.
One obstacle: The Ring was in San Antonio, and Dorn was in College Station.
Via social media, a UTSA alumna named Avery Crenshaw volunteered to pick up the Ring, and an Aggie, Natalie Martinez ’13, offered to bring it with her from San Antonio to College Station. Both were strangers to Dorn.
Dorn sent $400 via Paypal to Crenshaw, who bought the Ring and gave it to northbound Martinez, and Dorn brought it to The Association on Monday.
To the naked eye, the engraving inside the Ring appeared to have been ground completely away.
While Aggie Ring program senior associate Katherine Scarmardo ’09 began the work of consulting Association records for clues, manager Julie Scamardo took a closer look at a detail that had caught her eye.
Using a jeweler’s loupe, Julie Scamardo discerned the shadow of some original lettering. They took the ring to local jewelers Montelongo’s, but the higher-powered magnification actually yielded fuzzier results.
“You’ve got to hold the Ring just right -- you’ve got to almost look down on it, and then you see the shadow,” said Julie Scamardo, a 19-year Ring Office veteran who colleagues say has an exceptional eye for not only the script now used inside Aggie Rings but the hand engraving that was used before that.
Looking at the 2009 Ring, all agreed they saw a few particular letters.
Meanwhile, Association director of information technology Logan Freeman ’00 had pulled a list of every order ever placed for a Class of 2009 women’s Aggie Ring, size 8 or 8.25, with the natural (non-antiqued) finish.
That was about 200 names.
Katherine Scarmardo had been planning to cross-reference that with the list of “lost Ring” reports filed with The Association for 2009 women’s Rings. But armed with Julie Scamardo’s sharp-eyed find, she went hunting instead for specific names that would match.
“With the new letters we were able to make out, there was only one name that matched up perfectly,” Katherine Scarmardo said.
Once the owner is confirmed, Balfour will re-engrave the Aggie’s name and ship it to her.
Though the Ring was listed at $499.99, the pawn shop owner agreed to sell it for less when Dorn explained that his purpose was finding the owner.