British auction house Woolley & Wallis has denied media reports that it’s about to sell the world’s largest natural pearl—but notes that the specimen it’s selling is still pretty impressive, and likely to fetch more than $400,000.
The pearl in question measures 16.5 mm by 17.4 mm, weighs 33.15 cts., and is a natural saltwater pearl.
“It’s incorrect to say that it’s the biggest natural pearl in the world,” says jewelry department head Jonathan Edwards. “There are probably a couple of bigger pearls in existence. But it is one of the—if not the—largest natural pearls to come up for auction.”
He says his research hasn’t uncovered a larger natural one sold in the last 50 years.
The pearl came in from a private source, whose wife wore it, along with a cultured pearl, as an earring. When Edwards suspected it was natural rather than cultured, he had its origin certified with the Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF).
In a special note, the lab wrote: “The pearl shows an attractive white color with weak rosé and green overtones, poetically also referred to as the ‘orient of pearls.’ Such overtones are due to an iridescence effect caused on the surface of pearls and that greatly contribute to their beauty.”
Its estimate is £250,000, or $419,000. The auction is slated for May 1.