A Virginia Beach woman is happy as a clam after finding a rare 4 1/2-carat lavender pearl in a littleneck purchased at the Great Machipongo Clam Shack in Nassawadox, USA Today reported.
"I bit down on it and I pulled it out and said, 'Look at this,'" said Kathleen Morelli.
Billy Bowen of B&E Seafood in Willis Wharf, who has been in the clam-growing business for a quarter century, said he has never found a pearl in a clam grown through aquaculture like the one Morelli bit into.
"In the natural clams you could find them in there, about once a month you could find them. But in all my experience, I have never seen one to come out of an aquaculture clam – it's very rare," Bowen said.
|Photo : Kathleen Morelli / USA Today|
The pearl's large size, found in such a small clam, makes it even more unusual.
"We've been buying from him for years. When he told me that he has never seen one in an aquacultured clam, I said, 'Gosh, that's fascinating,'" said Jean Mariner of the Clam Shack
She and family members were enjoying a feast that included the steamed clams when Morelli found the pearl. She liked its look, but didn't realize how rare it was.
"I put it in my change purse and brought it home to show my husband," she said.
After returning home, she placed the purple orb in a dish on the dining room table, among other bits and pieces she's collected from nature.
"We've just enjoyed looking at it," she said.
When her husband, Joe Morelli, started researching, he discovered just how unusual his wife's find was.
"From what I've read, one in 5,000 clams will grow a pearl; when you're talking about anything of decent size" it's much more unusual. A pearl of this size and type is more like a one-in-a-million-clam find, he said.
Pearls are not really Kathleen's style of jewelry, so they likely will sell the gem, which could retail for $3,000 or more, Joe added.
Source: USA Today , Kickers Daily