Lost diamond has a happy ending for newly engaged Chandler woman - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Lost diamond has a happy ending for newly engaged Chandler woman

May 9th, 2017 development
Lost diamond has a happy ending for newly engaged Chandler woman

By Coty Dolores Miranda

Lisa Steinbring won’t forget the weekend of April 22 very quickly.

She only has to look at the ring on her left hand to remember a 48-hour roller coaster of emotion.

Not only did she accept Ron Riffle’s proposal of marriage April 22, but the next day was her birthday.

And that day almost cost the Chandler woman her diamond engagement ring had it not been for the help she received from strangers at an Ahwatukee park.

Even though Steinbring had pneumonia, friends of the couple wished to celebrate her double-dose of happiness by attending an outdoor performance of their favorite band, Tripwire, at the season’s last Concerts in the Park event at Desert Foothills Park.

The concert turned into a community diamond hunt when the centerpiece in her ring fell off and landed in the grass.

“Ron and I met last year as part of the Singles in Gilbert Meetup. Many of our SIG (Singles in Gilbert) friends were with us to celebrate my birthday, and despite the pneumonia, we wanted to share our happy news,” said Steinbring, who days later was still battling the lung infection. “The only reason I even got off my chair was when the band announced our engagement, and we went up to dance,” she recalled.

One minute, the ring with multiple sparkling stones was intact, then the next, the center diamond was gone – the surrounding diamonds encircling an empty, gaping setting.

The loss coalesced and energized a community of about 60 concert-goers into action.

After it was announced that the diamond was missing, literally dozens of concert attendees searched in the sparse dry grass and abundant dirt for 45 minutes, their cellphones providing illumination in the gloaming, and then the dark.

The scene prompted one observer to liken the sight to summer fireflies.

“Someone came to me and said this poor lady had lost the diamond out of her ring – the centerpiece stone. I announced it after the band stopped playing, and 50 to 60 people immediately started helping to look for it,” recalled Ahwatukee resident and Realtor Randy Fitch, who has sponsored the Concerts in the Park series of free music for 15 years.

“The poor lady was crying her eyes out and her fiance was distraught, but after searching themselves, they finally gave up and left,” Fitch said. For Steinbring, it was devastating loss further exacerbated by her illness.

“We had lost all hope, yet all our friends were praying to Saint Anthony that it would be found,” recalled Steinbring, whose 59-year-old husband succumbed to cancer two years ago.

Others who saw the couple’s angst persevered in the night search, among them Ahwatukee attorney Brian Foster, his fiancée, Alina Chu, and his two daughters, Kelsey and Brittany.

“I wish I’d videotaped it because it was nighttime and suddenly you see all these cellphones with lights looking on the ground. This went on for a long time after the concert,” said Foster. “All of a sudden, I heard a commotion and someone yelling, ‘I found it!’”

That voice belonged to Heather Unger, wife of Tripwire drummer Karl Unger who was at the concert with their two daughters.

She had a serendipitous tale of her own.

“I couldn’t help look for the ring when it was announced, as I was watching the girls. After the gig ended, I packed up our chairs while my husband packed up his drums and equipment and headed downhill, Unger recalled, adding:

“I opened the flashlight on my phone and thought, ‘What the heck; it’s worth a try’ and started looking for the diamond where everyone had been dancing,” said Unger.

“I may have been looking literally for five minutes when I noticed something shining in the grass. I almost passed it, but went back. I picked it up, and sure enough, it was the diamond! I yelled, ‘I found it, I found it!’” she said.

“I know I’d be heartbroken if I lost the stone in my engagement ring, and I’m very happy to know their special ring will be reset with the original diamond,” said Unger, who celebrates 17 years of marriage to Karl this month.

The euphoria of the discovery evaporated a bit when those remaining realized they had no idea who the couple was, let alone them the good news.

Enter social media.

“I didn’t get her contact information, so I posted on Facebook that we’d found ‘something precious’ and they could contact me,” said Fitch, an Ahwatukee Realtor for 20 years.

“Just as I got home, the fiance, Ron, called me. I said I needed some kind of evidence and he sent me a photo of the diamond ring on Lisa’s hand, and then another photo of it without the stone.”

Proof enough, and within 40 minutes, the couple and Fitch met up at a restaurant.

“She was shaking, she was so excited,” recalled Fitch. “I told them, ‘You are going to have such a wonderful story to tell.”

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Steinbring, recalling the phone call alerting them of their lost-but-now-found diamond.

“We are so grateful for this happy miracle memory of this ‘diamond in the rough,’ and for the quick, energetic action by everyone – the women, men and even young children who heeded the call to help once Randy announced it onstage,” she said.

“I had strangers give me a pat on the shoulder to encourage me, and then help us retrace our steps. And I thank Heather for not giving up. We have angels in heaven and earth helping us every day.”

As she and Riffle are avid fans of the band Tripwire, she was quick to offer a shout-out to them, too.

“I like to say Tripwire rocked my diamond out of the setting and then put it right back next to my heart,” she smiled.