Blinging his praises: Jeweler thanks LIRR conductor who returns $100,000 worth of engagement rings left on NY train

Leonard Greene, New York Daily News
·3 min read

Long Island Railroad conductor Jonathan Yellowday became a jewel in the crown of a Diamond District ring maker who left behind a bag of bling on his way home from Manhattan Thursday night.

Jeweler Ed Eleasian said he was carrying a case of 36 engagement rings valued at about $100,000 to show to a cousin who is getting married.

But he got distracted when he saw a friend on the train and left the package behind when he got off at the Plandome station on the Port Washington line.

“I thought the door was going to close so I ran off,” said Eleasian, who owns ELIE International.

But Eleasian said he didn’t realize his mistake until the next morning.

“I said, ‘What did I do with his bag?’” he recalled. “‘I said, ‘Oh my God. I left it on the train.’”

Enter Yellowday, who has found his fair share of items left behind during his eight years of calling out stations.

Yellowday, 38, was about to bellow out the next and last stop — Port Washington — when he saw the small unattended package in a seat. He took the box to his compartment on the train and opened it.

“I had to do a double take because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Yellowday said. “I actually thought they were fake until I saw the price tags.”

He said the rings were priced at anywhere between $2,000 and $7,000, and there was a whole box of them, with precious stones lining the sides.

Yellowday said he knew immediately that this was no ordinary trip to the lost and found.

“I found a cell phone and a wallet here and there, but nothing like this.” Yellowday said. “I said I want to personally hand it over to the MTA police to make sure it didn’t get lost in transit. “I didn’t think twice about it. That’s somebody’s livelihood in that box.”

Yellowday’s shift was over, but he made the 55-minute trip back to Penn Station to deliver the diamond rings. When he finally made it home, Yellowday said he had a restless night, even though he was secure in the knowledge that he had done the right thing.

Eleasian, meanwhile, woke up in a panic. He rushed over the Port Washington station where a manager put him at ease. He jumped on the train with his wife and headed for Penn Station, where he was reunited with his rings.

But the recovery wasn’t enough. Eleasian said he wanted to meet the honest man who saved his bacon.

“I said, ‘Can I thank this gentleman?’ he said. “I didn’t have any insurance to cover this kind of thing.”

Eleasian met Yellowday Friday at Penn Station, where Yellowday received an MTA commendation and went to lunch with Eleasian and his wife. Yellowday said he was not interested in a reward, but Eleasian promised to make him a special piece of jewelry to say thank you.

Eleasian said he maintained hope through the ordeal that the rings would be returned. If he had lost just one ring, someone might have kept it, he said. But not a whole box.

“I have faith that most people are genuinely good,” he said.

Eleasian also said he believes in karma.

Several years ago, Eleasian said he saw another jeweler drop a bag of diamonds on the sidewalk in the Diamond District. He said he picked them up and chased the man down the block to return them.

“This stuff goes around,” Eleasian said. “This guy who found my rings, I’m sure it’s going to come back around to him.”