Thai woman finds rare Melo pearl in shells bought from market

A penniless Thai woman who found a rare orange Melo pearl inside seafood she bought in the market is trying to sell the gem for her mother’s medical costs. Kodchakorn Tantiwiwatkul bought the sea snails for 70 Baht (2.26 USD) per kilogram for dinner in Satun province, Thailand on January 30. However, when she cut them into pieces, one of the shells had a round orange object inside which she initially thought was a rock. Kodchakorn was astonished when she later discovered that it was a Melo pearl measuring 1.5 cm in diameter and weighing six grams. It could be worth tens of thousands of pounds depending on the quality. She said her family kept the precious pearl a secret out of fear that the vendor would ask for it back or someone would force them to sell it at an unfair price. Three months later on March 18, Kodchakorn revealed the find as she want to sell the pearl to raise money her mother’s medical expenses. She said: ‘I showed it to my mother and she said it’s a Melo pearl and very valuable. We also watched the news in the television where a fisherman sold his for a fortune.’ Kodchakorn’s father Niwat Tantiwiwatkul said they were ‘desperate’ for money now after he had an accident and his wife needed the treatment for cancer. The medical bill could be more than a million baht (23,500 GBP). He said: ‘We can’t wait any longer. Now, we are desperate. My wife was diagnosed with cancer while I had an accident. This Melo pearl is our only hope to help them access the better treatment.’ The family appealed for help on March 18 to find potential buyers who could offer them a suitable price. Kodchakorn added: ‘I’ve seen stories of other people who have found Melo pearls and they were able to sell them. I hope we can do the same as the money will be a big help.’ Last month, trucker Monthian Jansuk found a similar pearl in Chonburi province on February 10 while fisherman Hatchai Niyomdecha stumbled upon the rare gem in Nakhon Si Thammarat province on January 27. Melo pearls range from orange to tan to brown in colour – with orange being the most expensive shade. They are usually found in South China Sea and Andaman Sea off the coast of Myanmar and are produced by predatory sea snails called Volutidae.