According to legends, a diver who found the largest pearl in the world was trapped in a giant clam (or specifically a Tridacna gigas) while retrieving it. Upon breaking free, he was holding a massive pearl, that over the course of time had various versions for its name such as “The Lao-Tzu Pearl.”
But the Lao-Tzu Pearl is no longer the largest pearl in existence. As of today, a Filipino-Canadian collector currently possesses the largest natural pearl in the world that’s verified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
The Philippines is famously known as the Pearl of the Orient for a reason. The archipelagic setting of our country serves as the gateway to the Orient. Our waters are home to one of the most fascinating mollusks on Earth—the Tridacna gigas. It is just fitting that the largest, most exquisite pearls can be found here.
When Abraham Reyes, the current owner of the pearl, acquired it, nature’s enormously ravishing creation had a baroque shape in white and cream hues. And as he is very passionate about exemplifying the best of Philippines’ culture both ancient and modern, he had the pearl evaluated by the world’s foremost authority on natural gems.
According to the GIA’s report, the pearl weighs 27.65 kilograms and is approximately 39.37 x 22.86 x 20.95. It doesn’t have an overtone, which is exceptionally rare. A non-nacreous pearl resembles fine porcelain or marble that not even the finest nacreous pearls can match.
Since Reyes had been blessed to behold the largest authenticated natural pearl, he commissioned a sculpture. Having one of New York’s finest sculptors, Bethany Krull illustrated the species’ complex and often complicated relationship with the natural world.
Krull explained that upon seeing it and learning its origins, it inspired her to “create a sculpture that not only displays the pearl’s magnificence but also reiterates the idea that the biodiversity and uniqueness of the waters to which it was born need to be respected and preserved.”
As Reyes enjoys blending design and culture in a way that showcases our country’s history, this sensational masterpiece is a remarkable addition to his growing collection. And in time, he will have more inspiring stories to share to the world, especially a new story featuring the largest pearl—but this time it won’t be a legend. After all, echoing the words of Federico Fellini: “All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”