Man discovers rare purple pearl in clam appetizer at Delaware restaurant

Scott Overland, a husband and father-of-two who works in corporate communications in the Philadelphia area, was on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with his wife and two children last week. On Aug. 9, while dining at a local seafood spot called Salt Air, he found something unexpected: a purple pearl in his clam appetizer.

“I was the one mostly eating the clams and towards the end of the dish, I just chomp down on something that felt kind of hard,” Scott Overland told TODAY Food. “I thought it was a shell or something like that, but then looked and it was this little purple thing.”

At first, Overland thought it was something that a chef had accidentally dropped in his dish because it was such a unique color that neither he nor his wife even knew could exist in the pearl world. Overland also said he didn’t really know that clams could make pearls, either, thinking (like most folks) that pearls are mostly an oyster’s milieu.

That’s when we sort of realized this was not something from the kitchen and probably something from the clam,” Overland said, adding that he and his wife both whipped out their phones and became Google pearl experts of sorts, researching all sorts of pearls and clams. “We found that this actually was something kind of rare and special, and saw a wide range of values, from $600 to even $16,000.”

According to local paper Delaware Online, the restaurant confirmed the clam in question was a northern quahog with a really fun scientific name: Mercenaria mercenaria. Grown by Cherrystone Aqua Farms in the Chesapeake Bay, this kind of clam produces non-nacreous, porcelain-like pearls (the non-iridescent kind) according to the Gemological Institute of America.

Buy rare quahog pearls here.

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