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Diamond Endowment Begins

Diamonds are Forever, but Diamonds are expensive!
That reality led 13 California women to go in together on a $37,000 necklace and take monthly turns possessing it. The 2008 bestseller, The Necklace: Thirteen Women and The Experiment That Transformed Their Lives, chronicles how their uber jewelry-sharing journey changed their lives.

Lake Cares Food Pantry hopes to change the lives of its ever-expanding roster of clients by borrowing a page from The Necklace with the raffle of a unique, custom necklace to raise money for expanding its cramped Mount Dora headquarters. 

Irene O'Malley, Lake Cares executive director, says this is a “unique fundraiser.” Modeling it after the experience in the bestseller, she says, “builds excitement with the reveal of each of the 12 ladies once they’ve worn the necklace — 12 women of completely different backgrounds getting to know each other.” Fox Searchlight Pictures holds the movie rights to the story of the necklace the women named Jewelia after cooking legend Julia Child.


Lake County jeweler Gold in Art Jewelers designed Lake Cares’ version christened “Bella Diamante” — beautiful diamond. Appraised at $21,500, the 18-inch 14K necklace grabs attention with a one-carat center diamond orbited by 26 diamonds. Its share of brilliant cut diamonds boasts a 3.51 total carat weight.

With an eye toward diversity, a Lake Cares committee selected the women who will wear Bella Diamante from April 2018 through March 2019 from a group of 30 eager participants with eclectic backgrounds. The name of each woman will be revealed after her month with the necklace.

Lake Cares will record a recap of each woman’s month wearing the necklace, her motivation, and her feelings during the handoff of Bella Diamante to the next wearer.

On April 16, 2018, 1,000 raffle tickets go on sale. Tickets cost $50. Call (352) 973-1037 to purchase tickets or to purchase online - click here. Individuals can purchase as many tickets as they wish.

“In the book, the necklace didn't have an ending,” O’Malley says. “What happened to it? We want a final resting place for it.”

First prize is Bella Diamante. The winner will be announced March 30, 2019 at the Lake Cares 10th Anniversary Gala at Lake Receptions in Mount Dora, Fla. Second prize is $5,000 and third prize is $2,500.

With one in six Central Floridians currently battling hunger and food insecurity — what the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as the “lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods” — feeding the region remains an urgent and omnipresent concern. Some 45,120 Lake County residents struggle with hunger. In 2017, Lake Cares served 36,201 individuals, 10,695 families, and distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food.

However, the organization’s small footprint cannot keep up with demand.