Thai woman finds orange Melo pearl worth tens of thousands of pounds
Poor Thai woman finds orange Melo pearl which could be worth tens of thousands of pounds as she tucks into a sea snail snack
- Kodchakorn Tantiwiwatkul discovered a Melo pearl in shell of her sea snail snack
- Yet to be tested for quality, the pearl could be worth tens of thousands of pounds
- She hopes to sell it to raise money to pay for her mother’s medical expenses
A penniless Thai woman’s fortunes may have changed forever after she discovered an orange Melo pearl in her seafood which would be worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Kodchakorn Tantiwiwatkul had purchased sea snails for 70 baht (£1.65) from a local market for dinner in Satun province, Thailand, on January 30.
As she cut the snails into smaller pieces, she discovered that one of the snail shells had a round orange object inside – which she initially thought was a rock.
Kodchakorn Tantiwiwatkul discovered a rare Melo pearl inside one of the snail shells she had bought for dinner for 70 baht (£1.65) from a local market for dinner in Satun province, Thailand, on January 30
She was shocked to find out that the object was a six gram Melo pearl, that measures 1.5cm in diameter, which could be worth a small fortune depending on its quality.
Fearing that the vendor who sold her the snails would ask for the pearl back, Kodchakorn and her family kept it a secret.
Now though, three months later, Kodchakorn has revealed she plans on selling the pearl to raise the funds needed to pay for her mother’s medical expenses.
She said: ‘I showed it to my mother and she said it’s a Melo pearl and very valuable. We also watched the news in the television where a fisherman sold his for a fortune.’
Fearing that the vendor who sold her the snails would ask for the pearl back, Kodchakorn and her family initially kept the pearl a secret
Kodchakorn has revealed she plans on selling the pearl (pictured) to raise the funds needed to pay for her mother’s medical expenses
Kodchakorn’s father Niwat Tantiwiwatkul said they were ‘desperate’ for money now after he had an accident and his wife needed the treatment for cancer. The medical bill could be more than a million baht (23,500 GBP).
He said: ‘We can’t wait any longer. Now, we are desperate. My wife was diagnosed with cancer while I had an accident. This Melo pearl is our only hope to help them access the better treatment.’
Taking their appeal for help public on March 18, Kodchakorn and her family hope to find potential buyers who will offer them a suitable price.
Kodchakorn added: ‘I’ve seen stories of other people who have found Melo pearls and they were able to sell them. I hope we can do the same as the money will be a big help.’
Melo pearls range from orange to tan to brown in colour – with orange being the most expensive shade.
They are usually found in South China Sea and Andaman Sea off the coast of Myanmar and are produced by predatory sea snails called Volutidae.
Kodchakorn isn’t the first lucky person to have their fortunes change thanks to the lucky discovery of a rare Melo pearl.
Last month, trucker Monthian Jansuk, 40, discovered a similar pearl worth £70,000 nestling inside his £1 sea snail snack.
What are Melo pearls?
Vivid orange Melo pearls fetch the highest prices
Melo pearls are naturally occurring gems produced under the shell of a large sea snail species known as Melo Melo.
The gems are formed when an irritant gets under the snail’s shell, causing the animal to produce secretions to reduce its discomfort.
Over several years the layers of secretions form a Melo pearl.
The pearls range from brown to yellow or orange, depending on the colour of the snail shell the gem was grown in.
Orange Melo pearls appear in only one of every several thousand shells, meaning these gems fetch the highest prices.
Melo pearls cannot be farmed, like other pearls, because the gem has not yet been successfully cultured to be grown in foreign mussels or clams.
This means the Melo pearl is only found when it naturally occurs.
The gems are found in the South China Sea, in shallow waters off the coast of Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.
Source: Obsessed by Pearls
Officials confirmed that the gem is indeed an extremely rare Melo pearl, weighing 65.57 carats (13.11 grams).
Experts said the stone’s value is as much as someone would be willing to pay – but market prices could be thousands of dollars per carat, depending on the quality. Similar pearls are selling for $1,700 (£1,226) per carat.
But the humble trucker, who never had more than a few hundred dollars to his name, said he was happy to sell the pearl for $33,350 (£24,047), just one third of the estimated price.
The worker and his wife, Wasana, 44, found the orange stone after boiling the snail and eating it with their son who bit into something hard.
Another Melo pearl, worth £250,000 was discovered by impoverished fisherman Hatchai Niyomdecha, 37, while picking up shells with his family in Nakhon Si Thammarat province on January 27.
He found a discarded buoy washed ashore with a number of shell including three snail shells stuck to it, which he brother Worachat Niyomdecha, 35, took home.
They gave the snail shells to their father, Bangmad Niyomdecha, 60, who was in the process of cleaning them when he discovered the pearl – which is about the size of a 10 pence piece.
Hatchai called his wife, Worachat Niyomdecha, 35, and his two boys to inspect the beautiful 7.68-gram precious gem with him and decided to check its value the next day.
They asked about the pearl among their neighbours who flocked to their home after finding out that what they found is an extremely expensive pearl.
A few days later, a wealthy businessman from another province heard about the pearl and offered to buy the pearl for one million baht (£25,000) but the family refused.
Another persistent luxury items collector increased the offer to five million baht (£122,000) but the family still declined, instead believing that they could get a much higher price for it.
A third potential buyer, this time from China, negotiated with the family to take the pearl for 10 million Baht – its expected price – but he wanted to see for himself if it was a genuine Melo.
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