BIG SUR, Calif. — A newly engaged couple is pleading with the public to help them find their engagement ring that was likely stolen while they were in Big Sur over the weekend.

Jen Barker said she went into a bathroom at Andrew Molera State Park to clean up from a day at the beach with her fiancé. She took off her ring to wash the sand and sunscreen out of it. Then she said a combination of her being tired and not being used to having an engagement ring on, she walked out of the bathroom leaving the ring behind.

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It only took her a few minutes before she realized what she had done.

She ran back to the bathroom and was gone. She and her fiance spent an hour scouring the parking lot, asking people and the rangers if they had seen it, but no luck.

“I’m devastated,” she said, mentioning the anger she feels toward herself for leaving it behind. “To others, it’s a diamond engagement ring. Just a pretty, expensive piece of jewelry to flash around. But, to Ken and me, it’s so much more.  This ring is a symbol of our love and commitment.”

(credit: Jen Barker)

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(credit: Jen Barker)

Barker said Ken worked with a jeweler to design it for her before proposing to her at the Grand Canyon less than a month ago. The couple, who recently moved to Monterey from Texas, said they’ve been dating for over five years.

“To us, this ring is the symbol of a new chapter of our lives together,” she said. “I truly hope that whoever is in possession of it now will have a change of heart and return it.”

The couple has posted photos all over pawn shops and Craigslist, hoping a $500 reward will compel someone to return the ring.

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The ring can be returned to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offices or by contacting Barker at jen.barker@gmail.com.