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Discovery of 75 lb. pearl shines light on Puerto Princesa

Written By | Aug 24, 2016

WASHINGTON, August 24, 2016 – A pearl that is likely the largest in the world has been discovered in the waters of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in the Philippines. The giant clam pearl could be worth over $US100m. Puerto Princesa City Tourism Officer Aileen Amurao said the gigantic pearl was handed in by a relative of the fisherman who has been sleeping over the pearl, nestled under his bed, for over ten years.

The fisherman had snagged his anchor on the giant clam and when he dove down to free it, he found the pearl.

Family members say he felt it brought him good luck. And, yes, $US100M is a windfall of good luck.

The huge pearl, measuring 30.5 cm. in width and 2.2 ft. in length weighs a staggering 34 kg. (75lbs.) and is confirmed to have come from a giant clam. The Puerto Princesa pearl takes the title of world’s biggest pearl from the 14 lb. Pearl of Lao Tzu found in the Palawan sea that surrounds the island of Palawan,  also in the Philippines.

la Mañana by Cesar Baraka for Google Earth -,+Palawan,+Philippines/@9.839055,118.736341,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!1s96566616!2e1!3e10!!7i4000!8i3000!4m5!3m4!1s0x33b563d0ca09d6a5:0x90c9795757496f8d!8m2!3d9.9672163!4d118.78551!6m1!1e1

La Mañana by Cesar Baraka for Google Earth –

Similarly, that pearl was found by a Filipino diver. Giant Clam pearls are not considered gemstone pearls, but are instead known as a “clam pearl” or “Tridacna pearl”. Gemologist Michael Steenrod of Colorado Springs previously appraised the Lao Tzu pearl at $60,000,000 (1982) and $93,000,000 (2007).

Both the Pearl of Puerto Princesa and the Pearl of Lao Tzu come from giant clams living off the coast of the Philippines, making them natural, not farmed, pearls. Giant clams, which can be as long as 4.5 feet, are regaining population after nearly being wiped due to over-fishing and environmental causes, including “the rapid “reclamation” by China of more than half a dozen submerged coral reefs and atolls in the West Philippine Seas. The Philippines are located east of Vietnam in the China Sea.

Our Sun’s nearest neighbor sports an Earth-like companion

In his article “Destroyed reefs, vanishing giant clams,Ed Gomez, writing for The Inquirer, notes

“ one seems to be paying attention to the unprecedented environmental havoc directly caused by man on the most productive and economically valuable natural ecosystems on the planet.”


“What have the Philippines and neighboring countries lost on account of the reclamation of the Chinese? As of the end of March, the approximate amount was a whopping $100 million per year, so far, in terms of ecosystem services to us and our neighbors, indeed, for all of humanity. And what are the Chinese offering in return?

From a more practical standpoint, the destruction of these support ecosystems will adversely affect the fisheries of all the nations fishing in the South China Sea. This large marine system’s importance cannot be overemphasized. It is a major fishing region of the world and for the Philippines. Time was when as much as 25 percent of our marine fisheries production came from this region. This has now been compromised and may continue to decline if Chinese destructive and aggressive activities continue.”

Pearls from giant clams are regard as non-nacreous pearls by gemologists because they do not have the iridescence of pearls that come from saltwater pearl oysters and freshwater pearl mussels. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and CIBJO now simply uses the term “pearl” (or, where appropriate, the more descriptive term “non-nacreous pearl”) when referring to such items, rather than the term “calcareous concretion.” Under U.S. Federal Trade Commission rules, various mollusk pearls may be referred to as “pearls” without qualification.

Image by Andrew Moat for Google Earth

Image by Andrew Moat for Google Earth

The new record-holder was found by a relative of Puerto Princesa city tourism officer Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, who said he used it as a good luck charm for more than a decade, touching the pearl before going fishing. Maggay-Amurao reports her uncle had “almost forgotten everything about the pearl until he was moving out, and he remembered he had something under his bed,” Ms. Amurao told CNN.

“We were amazed when he brought it to us,” Aileen Amurao told local media according to BBC reports.


Turning to Facebook, Amurao has asked gemologists to visit Puerto Princesa and help certify the pearl’s authenticity. Officials are currently waiting for confirmation of the gem’s status as the largest pearl in the world.

The pearl came to light when the fisherman, who was moving to another part of the province, asked Maggay-Amurao what he should do with it. “That’s why he brought it to me, since it’s quite heavy,” she told the Guardian.

Puerto Princesa mayor, Lucilo R. Bayon has displayed the pearl as tourist attraction in the atrium of the New Green City Hall in Puerto Princessa.

Sabang Palawan by Jackilym for Google Earth

Sabang Palawan by Jackilym for Google Earth

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.”

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning writer and wanderer. She turns her thoughts to an eclectic mix of stories - from politics to sports. Restless by nature and anxious to experience new things, both in the real world and online, Jacquie mostly shares travel and culinary highlights, introduces readers to the chefs and creative people she meets and shares the tips, life and travel information people want to read.