Man Vacationing in Delaware Finds Rare Purple Pearl in Clam Appetizer

“I just chomped down on something that felt kind of hard.”

A Pennsylvania man was served an extra side of treasure with his dinner while vacationing in Delaware earlier this month.

Scott Overland was eating at Salt Air in Rehoboth Beach with his wife and their two kids on August 9, when he found a surprise in his clam appetizer: a purple pearl.

Purple Pearl
Scott Overland

"I was the one mostly eating the clams and towards the end of the dish, I just chomped down on something that felt kind of hard," Overland recalled to Today. "I thought it was a shell or something like that, but then looked and it was this little purple thing."

Under the assumption that only oysters produce pearls, Overland concluded that the chef had dropped something, perhaps a button, in the dish. But then he and his wife noticed there was an indentation in the shell where the object had grown.

"That's when we sort of realized this was not something from the kitchen and probably something from the clam," Overland told Today.

So the couple started Googling. They learned that pearls do, in fact, grow in clams, and that the one that had made its way onto their table was exceptional.

"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," he added.

Purple Pearl
Scott Overland

Salt Air staff told Delaware Online that the clam in question was a northern quahog grown by Cherrystone Aqua Farms in the Chesapeake Bay. According to the International Gem Society, quahogs produce button-like pearls that are rarely spherical, and range in color from white, to brown, to purple. Mechanized harvesting methods destroy nearly all pearls that might exist in the shell, making them incredibly rare.

Overland said he's still deciding what to do with the pearl.

"If it's appraised at a certain value, it may be hard to justify keeping it, but I have a six-year-old daughter who I'm sure would love to have it," he told Today. "We might try to turn it into something so we can have a special family heirloom. That, or I have to keep eating clams and find a second one if I want to turn it into earrings."

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