Is This the World’s Largest Pearl?



A fisherman in the Philippines discovered this 75-lb. giant 10 years ago and kept it under his bed as a good luck charm

Philippine officials have announced that they are in possession of what is believed to be the largest natural pearl in the world.

The pearl weighs 75 lbs. and measures approximately 2 feet by 1 foot.

The Daily Mail reports the pearl was brought in to the local tourist office by a fisherman who had found the pearl 10 years ago off the coast of the island of Palawan in the western Philippines. He had kept the pearl under his bed as a good luck charm, and brought the pearl into the office only after his house caught fire. It is unclear why he brought the pearl in, or whether he has donated the pearl to the tourist office.

“He didn’t know how much it was worth and kept it tucked away at home as a simple good luck charm,” said Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, an official of Puerto Princesa, Philippines, in a statement to journalists. “We were amazed when he brought it to us. We now need help from gemologists to fully certify it.”

It is not know which, if any, gemological institutes may have been contacted. JCK has reached out to GIA to find out whether they have had inquiries about the pearl.

Maggay-Amurao also wrote about the pearl on her Facebook page and announced its public viewing at the Puerto Princesa city hall. “All recorded giant pearls in the world came from Palawan waters,” she wrote.

The current record holder for the largest pearl is the 14-lb. pearl of Lao Tzu, also found off the coast of Palawan.

 

 (Photo courtesy of Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao)


  • Bobby

    The giant clam can grow up to 4 ft in length. This pearl seems to have the shape of the giant clam. What an amazing find. How would you even begin to value such a treasure.

  • Robert James

    Unfortunately, this is not a pearl in the gemological concept of pearls. It is non-nacreous, meaning it has no nacre layers and no orient. It is a mass of calcium carbonate that is more like porcelain. It is obviously an oddity, but not a rarity when related to true gem quality pearl value. The previous record holder of this type of “pearl” is in the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” in New York, rather than the Smithsonian or Museum of Natural History, which has to say something regarding the claimed value of US$100,000,000.00.

    • Technically speaking as a gemologist, Robert James is correct; historically a “pearl” has been characterized as being formed by thousands of concentric layers of crystallized calcium carbonate that, when properly aligned, create a beautiful, lustrous gem we know as a “pearl.” However, in what remains to this day one of the most important works on pearls — “The Pearl Book” — written in 1908 by the internationally acclaimed gemologist George Frederick Kunz, Kunz points out that other mollusks, under extraordinary conditions, can produce “pearls” of great value, including the clam Mercenaria mercenaria, which according to Kunz produces one of the rarest and most beautiful of pearls, the QUAHOG “PEARL” (also spelled Cohog and cuahog), which is very collectible today and can be very costly. They are in the same category as “Melo melo ‘pearls,'” which are also non-nacreous “pearls” that can command huge sums of money — well into 6 figures. So today, the term “pearl” can rightly be used to describe beautiful, desirable, non-nacreous creations formed in virtually ANY mollusk, including clams, scallops, oysters. They are often very durable, but some may be more susceptible to damage from drilling as a result of their hardness (usually much harder than nacreous pearls) and non-nacreous formation. So in most cases, drilling such pearls should try to be avoided.

  • It is difficult to tell from the photo whether or not this is a “nacreous” pearl, or what type of mollusk even produced it; my first reaction is that it is a non-nacreous pearl produced by a clam, in which case it is not the largest known to date. But if it IS a nacreous pearl, then it is, indeed, the largest pearl found to date. The following is from my book, “The Pearl Book” (4th Edition)–describing a NACREOUS pearl and referring to an exhibition about 15 years ago now (+/-):
    “The World’s Largest Natural Pearl—a fancy-color lavender beauty weighing 856.58 carats—has lain unrecognized as a rare treasure, hidden from view in the vaults of a wealthy European family and subsequently in a private collection. Until now. It is creating widespread excitement in the art world and gemological world alike.
    This strikingly beautiful lavender-color baroque pearl is the centerpiece of an intricate objet d’art, forming the torso of an artfully sculpted “centaur” fashioned in 22-carat gold and adorned with rubies,
    diamonds and delicate enameling. According to the family in whose care this piece has rested for many years, the pearl is much older than the sculpture, and was selected from a collection of pearls owned by the family for many generations. Research is under way to try to learn the origins of this pearl,
    but so far no written record alluding to a pearl of such size, color, and beauty has been found. There is also some question as to the age of the sculpture itself. The cutting style of the diamonds—table-cut stones—dates to the 15th century, but certain style elements in the workmanship of the centaur suggest a later date. Jewelry historians are not in agreement, with dates ranging from the 16th century to the late 18th/early 19th century.
    Nonetheless, there is no question that this pearl is the largest known natural pearl in the world. Prior to April 2000, the previous record for the largest known natural pearl was held by the “Hope” pearl, an
    enormous baroque “blister” pearl that was part of the collection of Henry Hope, the London banker and collector. The Hope pearl weighs 450 carats and measures 2 inches in length by 4 ½ inches in circumference at its widest point, and 3 ½ inches at the narrowest point. In April, 2000, a new record was set by a newly discovered pearl, the “Burma Pearl,” which weighed in at 845 carats. The
    mysterious lavender beauty now creating such excitement exceeds both of these pearls
    in size, and also in beauty. Measuring 4 ½ inches in height by 6 inches in
    circumference, it is almost twice the size of the Hope and almost double its
    weight. The Burma pearl weighs almost 11 carats less than this pearl and is
    also smaller in dimension!
    Mystery may surround this pearl, but regardless of its history, there can be no doubt that this magnificent pearl is a rare beauty, and undeniably the largest natural pearl known at this time.
    Take advantage of seeing it for yourself, in its
    first public exhibition, for one night only, at the American Museum of Natural History ….”

  • Robert James

    Both the Pearl of Lao Tzu (also known as Pearl of Allah) and this claimed formation came from giant clams off the coast of Palawan. They are non-nacreous, at least the Pearl of Lao Tzu. That is assuming this image shown in the story above is real and not something created for the Palawan Tourist Bureau, which is always a possibility.

    I have to admit that the book: PEARLS by Elisabeth Strack is far and away the most complete book on pearls I have seen, and what we use for reference for our ISG Pearls Course. It is our main resource for information and research through our membership in the Cultured Pearl Association of America.

    https://www.amazon.com/Pearls-Elisabeth-Strack/dp/3981084802

  • Lapidary Artist

    How long would that take to grow?

    • Robert James

      According to National Geographic these giant clams can live 100+ years. If you figure the time it takes normal oysters to coat nacre on a pearl, even these non-nacreous giant clams could take the better part of 100 years to create this “pearl”. Given the size of the pearl formation, and that it is clearly in the shape of the clam shell itself, it is entirely possible that this clam started work on this pearl about the time the Titanic sank. No way to know for sure, of course, but the time line is possible based on all factors being equal.

      • Lapidary Artist

        Fascinating.

  • Shiv C

    It looks Majestic. Will look forward for more information about this pearl.

  • David Saad

    Where can I get better/bigger pictures? That is going to be my new desktop background!!!