PURPLE NON-NACREOUS PEARL--"QUAHOG PEARL"

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Lot 2130
PURPLE NON-NACREOUS PEARL--"QUAHOG PEARL"

Sold for US$ 1,912 inc. premium
PURPLE NON-NACREOUS PEARL--"QUAHOG PEARL"
Mercenaria mercenaria
Northern Quahog clam species
Coastal waters of the North Atlantic

Described by Linnaeus in 1758, the Quahog pearl does not come from an oyster but rather a thick-shelled edible member of the clam family. Depending on their size they are sometimes marketed as "littlenecks" if they are smaller, "cherrystone" if they are medium-sized or "quahogs" if they are larger. They are also known as "chowder" clams. One of the longest-lived North American bi-valves, its life expectancy is sometimes greater than 40 years.

It is estimated that only 1 in 100,000 Quahog clams actually produce a pearl of any kind and most are too unattractive for use in jewelry. Before its use in jewelry, the Quahog was used as the nation's first domestic currency. The Wampanoag tribe used a medium of exchange called wampum which consisted of beads made of the shell of the Quahog bivalves.

The rarest Quahogs are those which are a true purple—and these are found only in New England. Actually a "calcareous concretion", Quahogs are similar to pearls in that they are started by a parasite. However, the purple stain of the Quahog colors the pearl, not the nacre, in much the same way that a conch pearl is created.

The present offering is a button-shaped pearl with purple dome graduating to cream in the center, undrilled. Weighing approximately 7.98 carats and measuring 11.20 x 8.21 mm.
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