Elementary, my dear Watson

Still lost.
This is Mike’s ring, lost somewhere in Almonte, probably Nov 25 or 26. We searched all the places he was, before the snow. It is a unique ring, designed by me and made for him. It is very precious to us, and has special significance. He is devastated to have lost it. If you see anyone with this ring, please contact us or report it to the police. We are offering a very good reward for its return. Thank you so much for any help and please share.

The expression “lost” is not especially apt when applied to a ring. A sheep may be lost from a herd. Or a hiker may be lost in a park. One may even have lost an iPhone by having left it on a table at a restaurant.

But a ring – because it is often worn so frequently and therefore almost forms part of one’s anatomy – doesn’t just disappear. Paramountly if a ring falls to the ground it usually makes a noise. And if it were first removed from one’s finger, the secret to its recovery is a strict analysis of the events leading up to the awareness of its disengagement from one’s finger.  This may seem obvious but it is meant to capture the imperative not  of location (that is, your guess where it is) but of circumstance ( that is, what you were doing).

Patently something removed the ring from one’s finger. And whatever or whoever did that was part of what you were doing at the time. Don’t diminish the significance of that detail which has clearly succeeded to confound the search (or more specifically, the re-enactment).  It requires a unique effort to remove a ring unnoticed from one’s finger. It may for example have been strategically caught in a device or car door. It may have been pulled from the hand when withdrawing one’s arm from the sleeve of a coat (and remain concealed in the arm of the coat or having subsequently dropped therefrom).

it requires a critical restatement of every occurrence – especially the otherwise inconsequential detail – leading to the last recollection of wearing the ring.

It is conceivable that the ring was removed deliberately such as while washing one’s hands. But the repetitious familiarity one has with a ring – that natural acquaintance with its presence and feel – supports the more likely prospect that its disappearance was abrupt and tied to the events surrounding the distinct moment when you knew it was gone. By contrast the disappearance is not likely something that went unnoticed for days. This means once again that one must return to the acute circumstances around your first clue that it was gone. It may help in this analysis to recollect what other events surrounded that point in time; for example, what other people you were with and what you did with them. You may have met someone and removed a glove to shake their hand (and it remains in the glove); or lifted a parcel that tugged off your ring and caught in the package.

In most probability the ring did not just disappear. It wasn’t magic that removed it! You must dissect the minutiae of detail that preceded your awakening to its loss.

Elementary, my dear Watson!

This phrase is thought to have been said by the detective Sherlock Holmes to his friend Dr. Watson in the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) but in fact the character never says this in any of the stories.