‘All about the story’: Metal detectorist matches long-lost treasures with owners

Mar 21, 2023, 1:55 PM

Jay Zomberg, a Hamilton resident, picked up metal detecting as a hobby about 4–5 years ago. Mandatory Credit: WXMI

HAMILTON, Michigan (WXMI) — Everyone has a “why” for the things they choose to do.

When it comes to Jay Zomberg and his metal detecting hobby, the “why” is simple.

“The story is what inspires me,” he said. “You don’t know what you’re digging up.”

Zomberg has dug up quite a few treasures since he became a metal detectorist 4–5 years ago.

Those discoveries are extremely exciting, he said, but the buildup is quite the opposite. In a good way.

“It’s extremely calming,” he said. “It’s just you and some beeps in your ear.”

Then comes the find, followed by the celebration.

“I take the headphones off,” he said, “I put down my detector and I just hoot and holler. I start running around the field sometimes, depending on what it is.”

Sometimes, that moment is made even more special when he realizes exactly what he found. Zomberg said two stories stand out to him in particular.

“The first one was in Grandville, Michigan, here in West Michigan, at the middle school,” he said. “[I] was just poking around their baseball field — just a grass field behind the school. I got a really loud tone in my ear. It’s a very consistent tone. If you know anything about metal detecting, it’s a high tone. It’s really exciting. So, I dig it out only to find out it is a class ring. The class ring is from 1984. It says ‘Grandville High School’ on it. Lucky for me, the name was engraved on the inside of it. It turned out, it was a professor from Grand Valley State University, which I was able to reach out to him on Facebook, got in touch with him and drove out to his house and was able to get his ring back to him.”

The other story came when Zomberg wasn’t planning on breaking out his metal detector at all. He was on vacation. However, duty came calling.

“Down in Florida, there was a Facebook message — part of the Anna Maria Island group, which is where we were staying at the time. They just said, ‘Hey, I just got married yesterday. I fly out tomorrow to go back home. I lost my wedding ring.’ The island’s just covered in sand, so it’s a long shot if we’re even going to find it.”

He continued, “We met them — I believe it was five or 5:30 in the morning. We walked everywhere to try to find this ring. We got to the point where the ceremony was on the beach, and I started detecting and I bet within 10 minutes of us being there, I found it. The coolest part is that her husband was really quiet. Didn’t say a whole lot of words. But the moment I found the ring and I pulled it up, you just hear this loud screaming. He jumps up, gives me a big bear hug after that. It’s moments like that … they just make it so rewarding.”

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‘All about the story’: Metal detectorist matches long-lost treasures with owners