Miriam Tucker took a $5,000 sip of champagne at a fundraising luncheon in Tampa, Fla., the other day.
The 80-year-old immediately knew she had swallowed something. She found out later that the bit of roughage was a 1-carat diamond, the grand prize in the charity event.
The fundraiser is an annual event hosted by the Florida Women’s Club, and leaders try to step up the stakes every year, club President Kathleen Hudson told the Los Angeles Times.
This year, instead of raffling tickets for a prize, they poured 400 flutes of champagne. One glass would hold a diamond worth $5,000, donated by Continental Wholesale Diamonds in Tampa. The rest of the glasses would contain fake diamonds valued at $10.
Andrew Meyer, one of the partners at Continental Wholesale Diamonds, recalled a committee member asking him of the real diamond: “Well, what if someone swallows it?”
“That would never happen,” Meyer said he assured her.
Before the start of Saturday’s event, Meyer took the diamond out of his pocket and dropped it into one of the glasses. He watched as women began to pay $20 for each champagne glass. He knew the general area where the diamond was located, but not the exact glass, he said.
As the event wound down, Meyer and his partner, Joy Pierson, began the process of tracking down the stone.
The two started at opposite ends of the room. He had a magnifying glass and she had an electronic device. They went from table to table, checking each object.
“And it’s not turning up,” Meyer said.
They met in the middle of the room. No diamond. They began to worry. Participants began to doubt whether a real diamond has been placed in a glass.
Then, a woman approached Meyer.
Earlier in the luncheon, Tucker had taken a small sip of her full champagne glass -- and swallowed something other than liquid.
At first, she wasn’t going to say anything, Hudson said. But when Meyer and Pierson finished checking all of the glasses and hadn’t found the stone, Hudson said, Tucker decided: “I’m going to have to tell.”
By coincidence, Tucker already had a previously scheduled a routine colonoscopy for Monday. During the procedure, her doctor removed a small object and placed it in a bio-hazard bag.
Miriam and her daughter then drove to Continental Diamonds and handed the bag to Pierson. After the item was removed with tweezers and cleaned, Pierson and Meyer examined it.
“And it’s the diamond,” Meyer said. “It was very exciting.”
Tucker could not immediately be reached for comment. But she told the Tampa Tribune that she planned to give the diamond to her granddaughter in hopes of it becoming a family heirloom.
“[It’ll] stay in the family with a story to go with it,” Tucker said.
And next year, the Women’s Club charity organizers will pour only champagne in their glasses.