A woman whose diamond ring vanished while she was making fudge for a bake sale was despondent after scouring her home and finding no sign of it.

But Linda Vancel recently got a sweet surprise: A relative of the woman who bought the fudge found the ring when he bit into a piece of the candy.

"It's a very sentimental ring," Vancel said of the white gold ring her mother, who died 15 years ago, wore for 50 years before passing it on.

Linda Rhoades bought the fudge during a bake sale in West Lafayette. She took some of it to her sister-in-law's father, Charles "Red" Matson, in hopes of cheering him up after recent health problems.

When Matson snacked on a piece of the fudge, he bit into something hard — the ring.

Rhoades said Matson called her and said, "Well, Linda, it's got chocolate all over it, but it doesn't look adjustable. It's got a stone that's really shiny."

Vancel said she had looked all over her home, even dumping the trash can on the kitchen floor to sort through the rubbish for the ring. Finally she thought to track down Rhoades and sent her a long-shot e-mail, which Rhoades returned as soon as she got back from vacation.

"It renews your faith in people," Vancel said. "Sometimes there's so much negative in the world, to hear a story like this is reassuring."