Yvonne Abraham

Missing diamond story is a gem of a tale

Betty Ann Burns-Britton had a gut feeling that the diamond she lost would turn up. Betty Ann Burns-Britton had a gut feeling that the diamond she lost would turn up. (Jonathan Wiggs/ Globe Staff)
By Yvonne Abraham
Globe Columnist / September 19, 2010

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CAMBRIDGE — This is a story about an oval-cut diamond, a weedy parking lot, two nurses, a saint, and one-and-a-half miracles.

It begins May 3 — Betty Ann Burns-Britton’s 30th wedding anniversary.

She pulled into the parking lot at the Lechmere T stop at 6 a.m., like she does every workday. She parked in her usual spot, threw on her backpack, and hopped over a steel guardrail to start her milelong walk to Mass. General.

She headed down the McGrath Highway into the West End and pushed through the revolving doors at the Gray Building. She got her medium regular at Coffee Central and rode up to the 21st floor oncology ward. She put her things in her locker, and took her coffee and banana to the nurses’ station.

“It’s funny how you do the same things every day,’’ she says.

Only this day, Betty Ann looked down and saw that the diamond in her engagement ring was missing.

She and her husband, Jay, had known each other since they were 10, had dated since high school, so it wasn’t a surprise when he gave her the ring over dinner at the Sheraton Tara in Framingham. Twenty-six years and three kids later, Jay had the one-carat diamond re-set in a gold band with a heart in it. He’d designed it himself, which made her love it all the more.

Working in oncology puts life’s little problems into perspective.

“I knew this was minor,’’ she says. “But my heart wasn’t telling me that.’’ And so she burst into tears, which was a very un-Betty Ann thing to do.

Bonnie Filicicchia, also a nurse, was just finishing her night shift, but she hung around to help look for the diamond, because Betty Ann was so upset. Betty Ann was sure she’d lost it hopping the rail at the parking lot. Still, they turned her locker upside down, then retraced her steps through the hospital.

Nothing. So Bonnie brought out the big guns.

“Oh holy St. Anthony,’’ she prayed. “Look down from heaven, Lend me your hands, You alone possess miracles . . .’’

That evening after her shift, Betty Ann was leaving the hospital when she spotted something sparkling on the floor inside the revolving door.

“It was a diamond,’’ she recalls.

But she knew right away it wasn’t her diamond. This one was round, not oval. And, as the jeweler later told Jay, it wasn’t really a diamond, either. Somewhere out there, another woman was mourning her lost cubic zirconia.

Jay wanted to buy her a new diamond, but Betty Ann refused. She believed hers would show up.

“Nurses have a lot of gut feelings,’’ she says. “Every day I had my head down, looking for something shiny. I picked up I don’t know how many pieces of glass.’’

She spent months like that, until Aug. 28.

Did you find it yet? Bonnie asked Betty Ann that morning as their shifts crossed. Betty Ann said no, so Bonnie got back to work.

“Oh, holy St. Anthony . . .’’

That night, Betty Ann finished late, and by the time she arrived at Lechmere, the lot was almost empty.

She noticed something glinting on the blacktop in space number 181. Her diamond. It had sat there for almost four months.

“There must have been a car parked over it every evening,’’ Betty Ann says. “Why it didn’t go into a tire and travel who knows where. . . . Why the rain didn’t wash it away. . .’’

Bonnie knows why.

“I believe in the power of the saint,’’ says Bonnie, whose prayers have been much in demand lately on the 21st floor.

Does Betty Ann believe St. Anthony delivered?

“I have faith in Bonnie,’’ she says. “I see a lot of things at work that make me believe in a higher being, and I think that higher being works through people.’’

Still, one-and-a-half miracles is probably as much as anyone can expect in a lifetime. The jeweler put Betty Ann’s diamond back in the ring with six prongs instead of four, extra tight.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at