|The pearl, which weighs 34kg, may end up being certified as the biggest in the world. Photograph: Puerto Princesa Tourism Office/EPA|
A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years.
The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m.
According a report in the local Palawan News, a man from Puerto Princesa, on Palawan Island, found it more than a decade ago while out fishing. His boat’s anchor caught on the giant clam and he had to swim down to dislodge it.
He was not aware of its potential value but kept it as a good luck charm.
When he came to move to another part of the province, he entrusted it to his aunt, Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, who works in local government as a tourism officer.
“That’s why he brought it to me, since it’s quite heavy,” she told the Guardian.
With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city. It is now on display in the atrium of the New Green City Hall in Puerto Princesa.
Maggay-Amurao told the Guardian that she was now seeking help from experts to certify the pearl’s authenticity.
“So far based on our research in the web we cannot find any recorded article about this kind and as big as this size.”
The man was her nephew, and had kept it under his bed as a lucky charm, she said.
“He said every time he goes out for fishing he will touch the pearl.”
“The Puerto Princesa City would likely earn another prestigious title and a record breaker for having the world’s biggest natural giant pearl from a giant clam (34 kilograms) after being certified for its authenticity,” she wrote. “Need help from gemologists!
“Just for the info of everyone, all recorded giant pearls in the world came from Palawan waters.”
She encouraged all residents of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and Filipinos around the globe to raise awareness of the potential record-breaker. The post was shared thousands of times.
If it is found to be real, the pearl is significantly larger than the current record-holder, which as Maggay-Amurao noted was also from Palawan. A local diver from Brooke’s Point in Palawan recovered what is now known as the Pearl of Lao Tzu, weighing 6.4kg, in 1939.
In 2003 it was valued at $93m by Michael “Buzz” Steenrod, a gemologist based in Colorado Springs.