The discovery of a 150 million-year-old oyster has proved that sometimes, the mystery is more valuable than the treasure.
Fisherman on the south coast collected what they at first thought to be a real oyster. However, upon examination, not only had the oyster been fossilized, it was also incomparable in size.
Now in the care of Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, the 7-inch pear has intensified many people's curiosity. With such a large size, the 150 million-year-old oyster could hold what would one of the oldest, more rare, and most expensive pearls ever.
"It was discovered in the nets of a fishing boat which was dredging here in the Solent," Lindsay Holloway, from the aquarium, said according to Mail Online.
Unfortunately, in order for the pearl to be retrieved the oyster would have to be cracked and destroyed.
"To have a pearl the size of a golf ball would be exceptional. The biggest that have been recorded are about half that size," Jewelry expert Geoffrey Munn added.
Experts, though, have said no, and are unwilling to compromise the ancient fossil for the possibility that one of the most magnificent pearls could be lying beneath.
The creation of natural pearls is rare and only occurs when the inside shell of an oyster is obstructed by a foreign object during feeding. In an attempt to shield itself from the obstruction the oyster begins to form a pear sack around it. The foreign object is wrapped in the same substance that makes the outer shell of the oyster.
While the most common pear is white and rounded, not all pearls are alike. Most affordable pearls have been cultivated, but natural pearls are so rare that some of the most beautiful ones can be worth over $1,000. At 7 inches in diameter, the pearl inside the 150 million year old oyster is estimated to be about the size of a golf ball and could be worth several thousand dollars, although no one will ever know.