Impossible to miss on my Facebook feeds for the past two days is news of the newest, largest Giant Clam pearl now on display in the Philippines.
Lofty numbers of value are being tossed about – over $3,500,000 from IFL Science is the one that got me giggling this morning. “Ok, sure – whatever you want, buddy,” was the thought that ran through my mind.
Then I saw someone – ok MORE than someone - float $100,000,000 (srsly) and realized we gotta reign this in before it gets out of control.
The news came to light when a local fisherman brought the massive chunk of calcified concretion to the local tourism office in Palawan, Philippines. He’d found it 10 years ago and had been keeping it under his bed as a good luck charm, when a fire forced him out of his house and into the local tourism ministry where he surrendered the pearl to awe and amazement.
The non-nacreous pearl is from the Giant Clam species, Tridacna gigas, and weighs in at 34kg and measures about 2-feet long. By all accounts, it is the largest of its kind in the world.
The previous record holder, “The Pearl of Lao Tse” aka “The Pearl of Allah” aka “Ew, Is That a Brain??” weighs in at 6.4kg and is known among pearl lovers as easily one of the weirdest-looking “pearls” ever found. Check it out:
And that’s its good side!
The $100M valuation though? Where does that come from?
Dubious appraisals and urban internet legends, it turns out (where else?!). The Pearl of Allah has a long, twisted history since its discovery in 1934. It’s been displayed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, NYC where it was given an appraised value of $3.5 million in 1939 (by whom? No one seems to know definitively), and subsequent appraisals have inflated the value grotesquely to $42,000,000 then to $60,000,000 and finally $93,000,000 in 2007.
Bottom Line: The Pearl of Allah HAS NEVER SOLD FOR MORE THAN $200,000. Ever. These pie in the sky numbers of $93M are wishful thinking, nothing more.
I do kind of feel bad for the Philippine fisherman who is likely hearing all these incredible numbers bandied about, thinking he’s got it made … and it’s all based on inflated estimates that never were based in reality.
If you’re in the jewelry industry long enough, you’ll understand that gemstones like pearls, sapphires, rubies, etc., are only worth what someone is willing to pay for it!
At the end of the day, it’s obvious that the Tridacna pearl has SOME monetary value, but until someone is actually interested in coughing up a cool million (ooh, or a Hundred Million Billion! Let’s aim high here people!!) for a calcareous concretion, I am betting that fisherman won’t see much money from his find.
As a natural oddity and a new world record holder, the pearl will likely go on display at a local museum and tour the world to make appearances at mineral shows, etc., … maybe the fisherman could get a cut of the ticket sales instead??