Dorset

Pearl found in 'monthly treat' Weymouth oyster

Oyster and pearl in hand Image copyright Heidi Gill
Image caption Esmee Nicholls first mistook the pearl for a piece of oyster shell

A woman has discovered a pearl in an oyster while "slurping down" her monthly treat.

Esmee Nicholls, 77, from Weymouth, said she first mistook the gemstone for a piece of shell.

It came from one of three oysters bought at local fishmongers, Weyfish, and was fished from The Fleet.

Tim Withers, of Weyfish, described the find as "very rare" and said he had only seen three in 16 years at the firm, The Echo reports.

"I usually have three oysters while my husband Roger dresses a crab for us to enjoy - it's a monthly treat," Mrs Nicholls said.

Image copyright Heidi Gill
Image caption Mrs Nicholls eats three oysters a month as a "treat"

"He opened the oysters for me, put them on a plate with lemon and pepper and I slurped them down.

"While slurping down one I thought there was a bit of shell in it, but it was smooth. I spat it out and realised it was a tiny pearl, about the size of a bead, with a black bit in the middle."

Mr Withers explained that pearls began life as a piece of grit in the oyster.

'Cultured' oysters

"As it tries to clean itself, the pearl forms around the grit - it's very rare," he said. "They also form over quite a long time."

Naomi Grabham, valuer at Charterhouse Auctioneers in Sherborne, said most pearls seen in jewellery were from "cultured" oysters.

She said: "They are farmed and grit is implanted into them.

"Natural ones like the one found in Weymouth are very unusual, but also small, a bit lumpy and very brittle.

"The excitement of finding and owning it is worth more than its monetary value."

Mrs Nicholls said: "It's certainly not going to make a necklace but I'm keeping it."

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