Expected to sell for up to $35,000 at Bonhams on Wednesday, this 16.64-carat non-nacreous Quahog pearl failed to meet its reserve price.
Los Angeles--A large purple Quahog pearl found by a Boston man shucking clams for dinner failed to sell at auction Wednesday.

The 16.64-carat non-nacreous pearl was expected to lead the Bonhams Lapidary Works of Art, Gemstones and Minerals auction in Los Angeles, with a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 (though the auction house first said the high would be $30,000, they later amended that.) But, it failed to meet its reserve price when it was on the auction block.

A man from Boston found the pearl when he was shucking Little Neck clams for dinner that he bought for $25.

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Rather than coming from an oyster, Quahog pearls come from thick-shelled North American “chowder” clams.

It’s estimated that only one in 100,000 Quahog clams actually produce a pearl of any kind and when they do, most are too unattractive to be used in jewelry. Very few have ever come up in public auction.

Bonhams described this one as having a near-spherical to button shape, rich lavender hue and excellent porcelaneous luster.

A few other stones that Bonhams highlighted ahead of the sale also failed to sell, including a rare, large yellow star sapphire weighing 75.43 carats expected to garner up to $80,000, and one of the largest tanzanite crystals in existence at 7.5 inches high and 4,015 carats, which had a pre-sale estimate of between $200,000 and $300,000.

The top lot of the sale ended up being a large gold nugget weighing 18.18 ounces that garnered $52,500. 

A few of the other top lots were a large fossil of a palm from the Green River Formation of southwest Wyoming, which sold for $37,500, and a pair of demantoid garnets from the Ural Mountains in Russia. The transparent green rectangular cushion brilliant-cut garnets weighing approximately 2.68 carats and 2.43 carats sold for $33,750.

There also was a nephrite jade table on a custom forged iron stand, weighing 26 tons, by Ken Williams that went for $31,250, and a “superb” green beryl weighing 104.59 carats that went for $20,000. Bonhams called the stone “an exceptional example” of green beryl in terms of both its size and strength of hue, with a leaf-green color shown to its best advantage through the cut, clarity and luster.

For the full list of results, visit Bonhams.com.

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