Diamond in the drop: Worthington Libraries staffers find lost gemstone

Holly Zachariah
ThisWeek group
Julie Travis of Worthington lost a diamond from her wedding ring when she snagged it on a book-return drop box Sept. 29 at Worthington Park Library.

Julie Travis pulled the handle of the library book-return drop box, felt a tug and knew she had smacked her wedding ring against the metal and snagged it.

At the same time, Jeff Regensburger – who manages the Worthington Park Library in the Worthington Park Centre shopping plaza – was manning the outside station that day to help arriving patrons understand the new rules during the ongoing pandemic.

He noticed Travis looking around and down at the ground, seemingly puzzled, and asked whether she needed anything.

“I think I just knocked the diamond out of my wedding ring,” Travis told him matter-of-factly. “It could have flown anywhere at all."

A search commenced, and soon the two of them were scouring the sidewalk on their hands and knees during the late afternoon Sept. 29, the flashlights of their cellphones clicked on in hopes that the quarter-carat gem would gleam in the light.

Curious patrons wandered over to help, the group crawling like ants on a picnic blanket searching for one last crumb. But ultimately, nothing.

Regensburger knew that it was possible that the diamond had dropped down the chute along with Travis’s books.

But here’s the thing: The bins that catch the returned materials – think big, blue tubs on wheels like hotel pools use for dirty towels – must sit untouched for seven days. Thanks, coronavirus.

He told Travis this unfortunate news, a little apprehensive of her possible reaction.

No need.

“She took it like a champ,” Regensburger said. “I mean, it’s 2020. Of course someone is going to lose their diamond in a giant bin of books. Of course they are.”

Travis – 38-year-old wife to Jimmy Travis, mom to their three kids under the age of 7, an assistant principal at Franklin Heights High School in the South-Western City School District and someone still helping her family getting acclimated to Worthington after moving here over the summer from Nashville, Tennessee – possesses a natural, always-chill kind of vibe.

“Just check when you can, and let me know,” she told Regensburger.

And then she went home to tell Jimmy.

“I think I said, 'I have good news and bad news,'” she recalled. “The good news is that the library books are back with no overdue fees. The bad news? I lost the diamond in my wedding set.”

She laughed about it then, and so did he. Or else they would have cried.

And they laugh about it now.

“It was sentimental because it was a gift from my husband when he didn’t have much to give," she said. "But it is just a ‘thing,’ and things can be replaced. It was either going to turn up or it wasn’t.”

In fact, this unfortunate event happened as the couple's 10th wedding anniversary approached Oct. 15. Jimmy already had suggested to his wife that perhaps she deserved an upgrade by now, so just a couple of days after the Great Book-Drop Caper, he went to Kay Jewelers and picked out a new setting to surprise her.

Meanwhile, the library staff members commenced "Operation Never Give Up," setting aside the now-labeled "Diamond Bin" and warning everyone not to touch it.

Every so often, employees went outside to rake their fingers along the sidewalk yet again. They even went over the ground with special handheld UV-light wands they have now for extra sanitizing, thinking the rays would perhaps illuminate the diamond. (Spoiler alert: They would not have.)

With no fruit for their labors, seven days finally passed and, as Regensburger recalled recently with reverence: "It was time.”

Everyone gathered around as employees meticulously picked through the materials.

The diamond could have fallen into a binding. It could have stuck between two pages. It could have wedged inside a plastic jacket. Anything was possible.

They picked through every book.

Zero jewels.

Everyone closed in and peered down inside the now-empty bin. Wait. What? Was something sparkling?

“Lo and behold,” Regensburger said. “There it was.”

Someone immediately called Travis – her traditional, no-phones-at-the-table family was eating dinner and couldn't be interrupted so, of course, it went to voicemail. After she listened to the message, she stopped by the next day to get her diamond.

“Everyone was just so happy," she said. "It was so adorable. I wanted to hug them all. This turned into a real community-building thing.”

Meanwhile, her husband gave her the new diamond setting; the original gem will become a necklace.

“Now I go into the library, and I feel like a minor celebrity," Travis said with an embarrassed laugh. "I’m the Diamond Lady, I guess.”

hzachariah@dispatch.com

@hollyzachariah