MIDTOWN — Nearly half a million dollars in precious stones are missing after a Peruvian diamond dealer's wife who was wearing them suddenly dropped dead during a drip to the city, police said.
The 67-year-old woman, whose identity is being withheld at the request of her family, was in the city in July with her husband, who owns a high-end jewelry business in Lima, buying two diamond rings and a bracelet to bring back to South American for their business, according to the couple's son.
The woman, who wore the jewels for safekeeping, collapsed in her St. Regis hotel room on July 4 and died in New York Presbyterian Hospital two days later, police said.
As her husband and son rushed to send her body back to Peru in time for traditional Jewish ceremony, they realized that the $445,000 worth of jewelry they had come to New York to buy was missing, police said.
In the hours before their flight left in July, the grief-stricken father and son reached out to people who had come in contact with the deceased woman to no avail, the son said.
"All the people were so nice, in the hotel, in the hospital," he said. He and his father didn't want to point fingers, he added.
In their shock, neither father nor son could recall when the last time they had seen the jewelry, whether it was in hotel, in the hospital or at the Medical Examiner's office, he said.
Her son finally made it back to New York City on Oct. 19 to report the missing items to police, though his mother's death was far greater a wound than any theft, he said.
"She was not sick, she was super healthy. She never smoked a cigarette in her life," he said. "There is no money or jewelry that will bring her back."
The Medical Examiner has not yet determined the woman's cause or manner of death, said Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the office. No jewelry was noted during the examination and the office hadn't received any reports of missing jewelry, she added.
St. Regis Hotel and the hospital did not immediately return requests for comment.