A fisherman from the Philippines who hasn’t given his name is undergoing a major revelation - something that he kept as a simple good luck charm is now valued at over $100 million dollars. In 2006, the fisherman unknowingly found a huge pearl in the ocean during a storm and decided to keep it as a good luck token. When he finally did show other people his huge “good luck charm”, everyone was shocked to find out that this was really a pearl that was actually worth millions of dollars and seemingly larger than life. But what will happen to the Pearl of Puerto now?
Ten years ago, the fisherman and his family were in waters off the coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines. When he had difficulty dropping his anchor, he released that the anchor was stuck in something - he thought it was a rock or some kind of coral. The waters were very choppy and a storm was setting in, so the fisherman wanted to make sure that the boat was secure. He jumped into the water and followed the anchor to tug it loose. He also brought the object that was connected to it up the surface and decided to keep it. Weighing over 70 pounds, this was a large lucky charm, though the fisherman decided to bring it home and keep it under his bed in the hopes it would bring him good luck.
The giant pearl stayed under the fisherman’s bed for over a decade - it wasn’t until a fire broke out in his property that he had to move and clear everything out of his home. Low on money, the fisherman decided to bring his good luck charm to the market in Puerto Princesca and see if it had any value and to see if it would be worth selling. Measuring 26 inches in length and 12 inches in width, everyone he showed the rock to were flabbergasted. Local tourism officers were able to verify that this was a genuine pearl found inside of a giant clam - one recalls that “We were amazed when he brought it to us. We now need help from gemologists to fully certify it. We're waiting for authentication from Gemologist Institute and other international authorities”.
The record for the world’s largest pearl belonged to the Pearl of Allah - this weighed only 14 pounds and was valued at $35 million dollars. Amazingly, this pearl was also found off the coast of Palawan. When it was found in 1934, people all over the world marveled at its size and beauty. It is even on display in New York’s Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. But now, this new pearl easily takes the record for being the biggest and most expensive. Aileen Cynthia Amurao, an officer of tourism, said that “We believe Puerto Princesca will likely earn another prestigious title and [be] a record breaker for having the world's biggest natural giant pearl from a giant clam. We will keep this here in the Philippines and I hope it will bring more tourists to the city”.
The pearl that the fisherman found in 2006 is valued at over $100 million - an amount of money most people never even dream of having. Amurao recalls that “I was awestruck when I saw it just sitting on the dinner table. I told him it would be pointless to hide it as we do not know its value, why don't we put it on public display instead”. The pearl is currently on display at the Puerto Princesa City Hall. Locals and tourists alike have both come to marvel at its beauty and unbelievable size. The government of Puerto Princesa even posted about the pearl’s finding on their Facebook page and social media.
Like the fisherman, some local officers thought that the pearl wasn’t a pearl at all, but just a large piece of coral. Even Amurao says she “just became aware when I searched the internet that all giant pearls came from here; sad to know none of those were left in the possession of the city or province”. The fisherman hasn’t yet signed a deed of donation to the city, which means that the pearl is still his even though it is on display. If he decides to sell the pearl, him and his family will easily be set for the rest of their lives. However, a donation to the city would help attract more tourists and give the city more funding for infrastructure and community needs.
Giant clams can rarely ever produce pearls. They are formed inside the shell of the clam as a means of protection when an intruder parasite enters into its system. A pearl sac is made and calcium carbonate is secreted from the clam to “seal off the irritation”. This happens over and over again, with the pearl becoming bigger and bigger. Pearls usually take three or fours years to form, though the huge pearl that this fisherman found was likely being developed for a ten years or longer. Pearls are usually found within oysters, making a pearl found in a clam very unusual - especially such a huge one. It is almost a miracle that the fisherman found this huge pearl by accident.
Pearls rarely occur in the wild, and when they are do, they are rarely found. Until recently, pearl diving had been a very dangerous job, with over 50% of workers getting killed or injured on the job. These natural pearls have a high shine and iridescence and are extremely smooth. Most of the pearls sold in jewelry and in fashion, however, come from farmed pearls. These come from pearl oysters, which are kept on farms purposely agitated and introduced to a new piece of mantle tissue. This makes the oyster react and it begins to create a pearl sac in self defense. The farmers then control how big they want the pearls to form and harvest them accordingly. Pearls have been valued for their beauty and rarity since 200 A.D.
Although pearls are admired for their beauty, an expert jeweler explained that “pearls typically aren’t cut down into smaller pieces because they’ll lose their luster. I don’t know what kind of jewelry can be made out of this [huge] pearl. This is probably a museum item”. Another gemologist said that “This blob-shaped pearl is more porcelain-like than gem-quality (flawless in shape, surface, color and luster) [and might not sell for $100 million]. But this pearl could have started growing in this clam when the Titanic sank, for all we know!”. Giant clams of this size can live and continue growing for more than 100 years, making the accidental discovery of this pearl quite stunning. Many pearl divers and fisherman have also lost their lives attempting to find pearls deep on the ocean floor.
For some reason, pearls seem to have a natural spiritual quality to them. When the fisherman found this pearl, now dubbed the Pearl of Puerto, he wanted to keep it because he felt that it would bring him good luck and that his anchor getting stuck inside it was a good sign. A similar situation occurred with the Pearl of Allah, the world’s previous largest natural pearl. The original owner of this pearl was a Philippine tribal chief and he didn’t want to sell the pearl because he thought it was sacred. A Muslim, he compared the shape of the pearl to Muhammad’s head with a turban on. The chief thought this was a sign he should keep the pearl and worship it. It wasn’t until a buyer saved his son’s life that he was willing to part with the pearl.
If the lucky fisherman decides to keep the huge pearl for himself, he could surely sell it for a pretty penny. This would mean saying goodbye to any monetary problems and embarking on a chapter of life with his wife and children. If he decides he wants to give back to the community, however, the pearl could be donated and made an attraction to bring in more tourists and money to the area. Palawan Island has now been home to two of the world’s largest pearls, so it would make sense for the 75 pound pearl to stay here. Either way, it might be a good thing that the fisherman left this untouched under his bed for over a decade - it grew in value and makes this story even more remarkable.
The fisherman who found this pearl would often rub it whenever he went out on his boat, hoping it would bring him good luck and a successful trip. Whether it was actually a good luck charm or not, hopefully it will bring good luck to the town of Puerto Princesa, which is in desperate need of money and tourism revitalization. The government of the city has given the fisherman a undisclosed amount of money to show their appreciation for letting the pearl remain in their possession and on display. This also leads people to wonder if there could be even bigger pearls out there - perhaps even off the coast of Puerto Princesa itself. Giant clams live very long lives, so the possibility of a larger giant pearl existing is very likely.
You might also be wondering what could even be done with this huge pearl. With some experts placing a value of $130 million on the pearl, that is actually for display and museum purposes. Breaking this up to make smaller pearls seems like an obvious solution, though the pearls will actually lose a lot of their luster and natural beauty. This pearl also is quite oblong and strangely shaped - the pearls that are most highly valued are naturally perfect and round.
An unsuspecting fisherman found a pearl from a giant clam in 2006 when he dove into the water to free his boat’s anchor from getting tangled in something. Thinking of the huge rock as a good luck charm, he kept it under his bed for ten years and didn’t show it to anyone. When a fire broke out in his home and forced him to move, he cleared out of all of his belongings and wanted to get rid of the large rock, thinking that it wasn’t a good luck charm anymore. When it brought it to his local tourism markets, people were shocked at the size and possible value of the pearl. Once it was verified by a marine geologist, it was said to be worth over $100 million!