TAMPA — They say diamonds are a girl's best friend. But a guest at a recent fashion show fundraiser might give that distinction to her gastroenterologist.
Miriam Tucker was one of hundreds of women sipping champagne at Fashionollia on April 20, staged for the 65th year by the Tampa Woman's Club.
It cost $20 for a glass of the bubbly — and a chance to win a 1.03-carat diamond. Continental Wholesale Diamond plunked a single stone, a round brilliant cut beauty appraised at $5,000, into one champagne flute. All the rest got cubic zirconias.
The luncheon concluded without any ecstatic shriek from one of the 280 women in the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel International Plaza. Event organizers and jewelers Andy Meyer and Joy Pierson were puzzled.
"We knew the winner had to be at one of two tables," Pierson said. She was hovering in that vicinity when Tucker, 80, spoke up.
"I thought I'd drink a bit of champagne so I didn't have to stick my finger so far into the glass," said Tucker, a retired real estate broker. "We were laughing and talking when I realized I swallowed it. What a dumb thing."
Meanwhile, roving jewelers, armed with probes and a loupe, examined each stone. Tucker, assuming event organizers would announce a winner at any minute, chose not to draw attention to herself.
Until the room was near empty. Then she confessed.
"She said she swallowed what was in her glass," Pierson said, "but as luck would have it, she was scheduled for a colonoscopy in two days."
That wasn't good enough for Fashionollia chairwoman Gina Roth who insisted Tucker, who lives in South Tampa, follow her to St, Joseph's Hospital for an X-ray.
The diamond didn't show up on the X-ray, so Tucker prepped for her colonoscopy as planned. But as far as she could tell, the diamond remained stuck in her body.
Early the next morning, she alerted Dr. Bruce Edgerton "to be on lookout," briefing him on the case of the missing diamond.
During Tucker's examination, the doctor struck, well, a diamond. With the stone in a biohazard bag, Tucker's daughter drove straight to the jewelry store.
The jewelers confirmed Tucker's bling was the real thing. She took her prize home, cleaned, polished, sparkling.
As my son says, "All's well that ends well," Tucker said.
Champions for Children was the luncheon beneficiary.
Their motto: Protect Our Precious Gems.