Check this out: You’re out for a nice seafood meal with your spouse on a relaxing beach vacation. You spring for a clam appetizer, bite into it after it arrives at your table, feeling something tough and unyielding and — whoa! – Spit it out only to find… it’s a pearl! And not just any pearl – a rare purple pearl.
That scene actually came to the fore last Tuesday for Phoenixville, Pennsylvania resident Scott Overland. While on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, the corporate communications executive and his wife visit an expensive local farm-to-table restaurant, salt airAnd ordered the clam appetizer.
When the dish arrived on the table with a bell-pepper garnish that the couple told the restaurant to leave, they considered sending it back, but “ultimately decided not to,” recalls Overland. “It was a good lesson that sometimes it pays not to be a pain in the restaurant!”
Initially, after a few hard bites, Overland thought it was a piece of the shell, then, after examining the unexpected object, noticed its purple color, he tells Food Network.
“We initially thought it was something that a chef dropped like a bead or piece of candy,” he says. “My wife said it looked like one of those Dots candies that you peel off paper, because the back of it was flat and it was a very light shade of purple.”
A closer inspection of the shell revealed “an indentation in it that seemed to be growing something there,” says Overland, which is when the couple realizes the discovery of the bead “perhaps … something that the clam came from inside.”
Neither Overland nor his wife knew that pearls could be found in clams. “We thought they only came from oysters,” he says. He had never seen a purple pearl before.
The pearls, produced by quahog clams, are often button-shaped, like overland, and can be white, brown, or purple in color. They are “extraordinarily rare” – occur in about one in 5,000 shells. According to the International Gem Society.
Ballard Clams and Oysters spokesman Tim Parsons, who supplied Salt Air with Northern Quahog clams, which produces the Overland purple pearls, said the company typically learns about two or three pearl discoveries per year in oysters. and supplies to restaurants.
“Usually, it’s more than a dentist claims,” Parsons quipped for delaware online, “But you can definitely classify it and they’re worth the money.”
Overland says his early research has led him to believe that the value of the pearls he found could be anywhere from $600 to $16,000. He and his wife plan to evaluate their discovery in the coming weeks. But even if it’s a huge sum of money, the couple still can’t sell it.
“We’re still deciding what to do with it, but we’re leaning toward keeping it as a cool family heirloom and something to remember the trip,” Overland says. “We can turn it into a nice piece of jewelry, but if my wife wants earrings I’ll have to eat a lot of clams to find another!”