Toronto - Finding positive news can often seem like a somewhat daunting task during these unsettling times. However, out of every crisis often come tales of hope and promise that can move us forward to a better place. Such is the story of a fisherman, an antique collector, and a family's recent unveiling of a pearl that may be the world's largest and most valuable ever found to date.
While the tale of this generational jewel may not reference the long-lost pearl from the legend of Lao Tzu exactly, it is nevertheless likely to be the closest companion piece to the storied fable that you'll ever see. In fact, the recently unveiled pearl was apparently discovered in the very same waters off the coast of the Philippines as the famous Lao Tzu gem.
Flash-forward almost a hundred years from this legend, and a Canadian man from a suburb just outside of Toronto, has recently unwrapped a family heirloom that is now believed to be perhaps the world’s largest natural pearl, weighing in at just under 60 pounds, with an estimated auction value of between $65 to $95 million dollars.
The pearl which comes with a long and colorful family history, was on display for the unveiling outside a vault with the current owner Abraham Reyes, a Mississauga, Ontario man, who inherited it from his great aunt. The off-white pearl which is about the size of a cows head, or baby, is encircled by a 22 carat gilded octopus which holds it in place. The pearl itself is estimated to be about a thousand years old, and possibly much older.
Reyes told reporters at the unveiling that he first saw the pearl when he was very, very young. "I was around seven years old,” Reyes said, “But the value of those things never played in my mind at the time.”
Experts are still pouring over the pictures and further examinations have to be completed, however, assuming everything pans-out as presented, then the pearl would far outweigh the infamous Pearl of Lao Tzu, which rings in at a speck over 15 pounds, and has long been considered the world's record-holder. (Notwithstanding the purported - but as of yet - not fully substantiated catch of an even larger pearl caught by a Filipino fisherman a few years ago).
Reye's says that he gets his interest in old things and gems honestly as they were both areas of personal interest that were passed on down to him by his great aunt. According to Reyes, his aunt, who lived in Manila, was an avid and renowned collector of oriental art, pre-colonial antiques, and sea related artifacts, including rare shells, and enjoyed sharing her passion with Reyes. His aunt received the pearl from Reyes Grandfather who suitcased it into Canada in 1959, after acquiring it from a local fisherman (both of whom apparently had no idea of its value at the time), before it was eventually passed onto Reyes as part of a collection of family heirlooms. In fact, Reyes claims that he and the rest of the family didn't even know it was a pearl until just a few years ago when someone suggested they have it examined by the Gemological Institute Of America.
Reyes says that what's funny is when people used to see the pearl in his house, they often thought it was simply a fancy sea-sculpture of an octopus with tentacles encasing a rock, "They literally had no idea it was a pearl," he said. "But then again, just prior to that... neither did I."
When asked about the prospect of bringing it to auction, Reyes stated that it would stay in the family, but that he would like to see it come out of the vault more often. “My goal is to have it brought to the museums or even some of the major galleries for the world to see it,” Reyes said. He wants to teach the public about preserving antiquities, along with the history of pearls, why they're so valuable, and the need for raising environmental awareness. “Natural pearls are a reflection of our delicate ecosystem,” he said, "We need to protect all of it."
For the rest of us, this is clearly an educational tale of why it pays to be nice to your elderly relatives!
- A.I.A. Writers
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