Hatchai Niyomdecha Thai fisherman finds rare orange Melo Melo pearl worth $330,000 which he now intends to sell to a Chinese collector, with the hopes of using the proceeds to lift the impoverished family out of poverty.
Finding a pearl inside a shell is rare, never mind an orange one which can fetch well over $400,000…
Hatchai Niyomdecha, 37, was picking up shells with his family when they stumbled upon the rare find in Nakhon Si Thammarat province on January 27.
Hatchai found a discarded buoy washed ashore with a number of shell including three snail shells stuck to it, which his brother, Worachat Niyomdecha, 35, took home intending to snack on.
They gave the snail shells to their father, Bangmad Niyomdecha, 60, who was in the process of cleaning them when he discovered the pearl, the width of a dime.
Strange dream days before discovery
Melo pearls are formed by sea snails known as Melo Melo and deposited inside their shells, unlike traditional pearls which are found inside oysters. Most Melo Melo pearls are found exclusively in South East Asia waters.
The ‘pearls’, like those of the conch, are created by calcareous concretion, resulting in flame-like structures. The major difference lies in their color, which ranges from pale yellow to orange, compared with the peach to pink tones of the conch.
As the father marveled at the find, Hatchai called called his wife, Worachat Niyomdecha, 35, and his two boys to inspect the 7.68-gram precious gem with him and decided to check its value the next day.
Hatchai, who spotted the shells, claimed he had a strange dream a few days before finding the precious gem according to the dailymail.
He said: ‘An old man in white with a long moustache told me to come to the beach so I can receive a gift. I think he led me to finding the pearl.
‘I want to sell the pearl for the highest price. The money won’t just change my life, it will change my destiny. My whole family will have better lives.’
He believes that the old man could be a deity who wanted to help him get out of poverty as the pearl could be worth as much as 10 million Baht, equivalent to $332,000 USD.
A family is offered a chance out of impoverishment
A few days later, a wealthy businessman from another province heard about the pearl and offered to buy the pearl for one million baht (£25,000) but the family refused.
Another persistent luxury items collector increased the offer to five million baht but the family still declined, instead believing that they could get a much higher price for it.
A third potential buyer, this time from China, is now negotiating with the family to take the pearl for 10 million Baht – its expected price – but he wanted to see for himself if it was a genuine Melo.
He is expected to fly to Thailand next week but will have to undergo the required two-week quarantine and other guidelines before reaching the pearl owner’s home.
Melo pearls range from orange to tan to brown in color – with orange being the most expensive shade.
They are usually found in South China Sea and Andaman Sea off the coast of Burma and are produced by predatory sea snails called Volutidae.
The place where the Melo pearl was found, Nakhon Si Thammarat, has a coast on the Gulf of Thailand.
Ocean currents from the South China Sea often lead there.