Oops! Woman, 80, Swallows $5K Diamond at Charity Event

She had a doctor recover the jewel

Friday, Apr 26, 2013  |  Updated 8:22 AM PDT
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LONDON - DECEMBER 07: A jeweler examines a brilliant cut 1.01 carat diamond on December 7, 2006 in London, England. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution on December 4, 2006 backing the Kimberley Process, a global initiative aimed at preventing "conflict diamonds" from funding warfare and civil unrest. The issue will be highlighted by the forthcoming release of the new Leonardo Di Caprio film "Blood Diamonds" (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

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The idea behind the Tampa Women's Club charity event was simple. For $20, you could buy a flute of champagne and a chance to win a one-carat, $5,000 diamond.
 
Organizers of the Saturday event in Tampa, Fla. placed $10 cubic zirconia stones in the bottom of 399 of the 400 champagne glasses. The prized diamond, donated by Continental Wholesale Diamonds, was placed in the last.

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The problem? Eighty-year-old Miriam Tucker accidentally swallowed it.

Tucker told local media that she didn't want to put her finger in the glass to get the jewel. Instead she took a few sips of champagne. As she was talking and laughing with other women at the table, she realized she swallowed the jewel.

"What a dumb thing," she said.

Meanwhile, organizers and jewelers Joy Pierson and Andy Meyer were puzzled that no one came forward with the diamond.

"We knew the winner had to be at one of two tables," Pierson said, who along with Meyer examined each stone with probes and a loupe.

As they hovered near the table, Tucker eventually spoke up. "She said she swallowed what was in her glass," Pierson said.

Event chairwoman Gina Roth insisted that Tucker follow her to a hospital for an X-ray. The diamond didn't show up, but Tucker already had a colonoscopy scheduled for Monday.

She told Dr. Bruce Edgerton what happened and he retrieved the diamond, put it in a biohazard bag and gave it to Tucker's daughter. After the procedure, they went to a jewelry store and had the diamond cleaned, tested and verified.

"It's an amazing story," said Tucker, who hasn't decided on a setting for the diamond. She plans to bequeath it to her 13-year-old granddaughter, where the diamond will "stay in the family with a story to go with it."

The jewelers said they've participated in other charity events in which they held a drawing for a diamond. But this was the first time they used a champagne glass.

"We might change the way we deliver the diamond," Pierson said. "I don't think we'll put it in a glass again."

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