01/06/2011 08:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mark Epple, Unemployed Man, Finds And Returns 12-Carat Diamond Ring

When she realized the 12-carat diamond ring her husband Roger had given her for their 30th wedding anniversary was missing, Janis Ward was distraught.

According to Denver's ABC 7, the couple was hustling to catch a flight out of the Eagle County airport in Colorado when the ring went missing. But Janis didn't realize it was gone until they arrived home in Miami late that night.

Eagle County spokeswoman Kris Friel told ABC:

"The following morning in the midst of a heavy snowstorm, the county's curbside staff, along with American Airline employees began searching. They walked the ramps, scoured the parking lot and baggage area and dug through plowed snow, looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack."

But the ring wasn't there to be found. Mark Epple, an unemployed architect from Minneapolis, was catching a flight with his family when he picked it up, thinking it was a piece of costume jewelry.

Epple examined the ring when he got home, and in turn contacted the airport, got in touch with the Wards, and returned the ring.

After getting the gem back, Roger said:

"I travel all over the world. This is extraordinary. It never happens."

As thanks, the Wards gave Epple and his family use of their vacation home in Eagle Valley for a holiday ski trip.

Read more about the returned stone at ABC 7.