Mike Serino's single lavender quahog pearl is estimated to fetch between $10,000–15,000 at Kaminski Auctions. (photo courtesy Kaminski Auctions)

Mike Serino’s single lavender quahog pearl, which measues 11.43 by 8.36 millimeters, is estimated to fetch between $10,000–15,000 at Kaminski Auctions. (courtesy Kaminski Auctions)

A jelly bean–size pearl that could have broken a Massachusetts cop’s teeth when it turned up in his seafood stew could break records when it heads to auction next month. Officer Michael Serino initially thought the small, hard object he’d come across in his soup was a rock. The 6.22-carat lavender pearl was served up to Serino at a restaurant in Peabody, Massachusetts, where he and his family were celebrating his birthday nearly six years ago.

“We thought it was pretty, so we took it home,” Serino told CBS Boston. “It was a good seafood stew, and now it’s even more tasty now that I’ve got this pearl that’s worth thousands.”

Serino sat on his gem until a news report last December about a similar story in Virginia got him thinking. He sent the pearl to the California-based Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which concluded it was a very rare specimen that had come from a northern quahog clam.

“They are pretty special,” Dona Dirlam, the director of the gemological library and information center at the GIA, told the Boston Herald. “All natural pearls nowadays are quite special.”

Mike Serino’s single lavender quahog pearl alongside a coin (screenshot of CBS Boston video by the author)

Pearls have really come out of their shells lately at auction. Last April, a pair of natural pearls that might once have belonged to Empress Eugenie of France set a new auction record for their kind when they sold at Doyle New York for $3.3 million. In December, a pearl brooch that might have once been part of the Russian crown jewels fetched $813,750 at New Jersey’s Rago Arts auction house. Despite its humbler origins, Serino’s stew surprise is part of the March 15 sale at Kaminski Auctions in Beverly, Massachusetts (online bidding starts February 28), and its estimated price of $10,000–15,000 is enough to make naysayers clam up.

“I wanted a new Corvette,” Serino said, but “I’m thinking we’re gonna go with [renovating] the kitchen ’cause I have to live with my three daughters and my wife, and they can be tough.”

Serino’s pearl will be on view March 12–15 at Kaminski Auctions (117 Elliott Street, Beverly, Massachusetts).

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

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