When Richard Benjamin lost his 1979 Stoughton High School class ring 41 years ago, his decision to have one of the most expensive rings with his initials engraved on it paid off.

Benjamin lost his white gold ring with a blue stone while playing in Page and Mandt parks about three weeks after he got it. He recalls that he took the ring off and put it in his pocket and didn’t remember where he dropped it.

He spent several days going back to the parks to look, without success, and he never thought he would see it again.

The ring was returned to him about four weeks ago – after a metal detector search had found it just a few years after it was lost.

Stoughton metal detectorist Keith Kvalheim found Benjamin’s class ring in 1982 in Mandt Park, near a baseball diamond. Instead of trying to sell the ring, he kept it in his detecting box, hoping to find its owner.

But it wasn’t until fellow SHS 1979 alumnus Jeff Gassen took a photo of the ring and posted it on the Class of 1979 Facebook page about a month ago that Benjamin finally could identify and claim his long lost ring.

“I really think the heroes here are Jeff Gassen and the metal detectorist,” Benjamin said.

Gassen, who had his class ring stolen in high school, knew how much Benjamin cherished the ring.

“It was amazing to get a ring back after that long,” Gassen said. “I wish I would have found my ring.”

Benjamin was in the SHS band, played football, basketball and track and field. He now works as a mechanic subcontractor. He said he was lucky to have so many features to help prove it was his ring, such as his initials “RB” inscribed on it, and cut facets on both sides of the ring.

When he ordered the ring, Benjamin said he had been vying to have the most expensive one in the class, paying more than $100 back in 1979. He was happy to pay Kvalheim $40 for finding it and returning it good as new, all these years later.

“I thought there might be dirt on it. There was not a mark on it and it looked brand-spankin’ new,” Benjamin said. “I was amazed it still kind of fit on my right finger.

“I had to wear it every day for two weeks to show it off. I put it away and now I just wear it for special occasions.”