IRVINE ( — For as long as she can remember, Nicole Sarber has waited for her fairy tale. But as the love of her life got close to proposing with a family heirloom passed down four generations, she watched her fairy tale fall apart.

“This is something you dream about your whole life – this experience. And that moment was stolen from us,” Sarber said. “Not in a million years did we think that we would be here.”

Since 1892, the women in Sarber’s family have worn a two-carat diamond wedding ring worth $40,000.

Six months ago, Sarber’s boyfriend, Julio Cuellar, asked a friend of a friend, Daniel Cervantes, a jeweler, to polish the wedding ring and design a band for it.

After Cuellar dropped the ring off at an Irvine apartment where Cervantes was staying, he never saw the ring again.

“He’s like I’ll drive to you next week. And then next week turns to next week,” Cuellar said.

Every passing week, Cuellar hoped he would get the ring back so he could propose. But Cervantes disappeared. He had no idea how to tell his girlfriend the devastating news.

“For me, it was just really hard because she’s my best friend. Why can’t I talk to my best friend and tell her what’s going on? It was just really, really hard for me,” Cuellar explained.

Finally, he told his girlfriend and her parents, and they reported it to Irvine police, who arrested Cervantes.

The 27-year-old is accused of targeting four other couples. In one case, he removed the diamond from another victim’s ring and never returned it, investigators said.

“This day is amazing because he’s going to be held responsible and accountable,” Sarber said.

Cuellar did propose to Sarber, but without the priceless heirloom ring.

Irvine police are urging other victims to come forward.


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