Did You Know? (Pearl Edition)

The world’s largest pearl weighing in at 14.1 pounds was discovered in a giant clam off the coast of the Philippines in 1939?

I found this on page 46 of The Secret Life of Clams by Anthony D. Fredericks. I always thought that only oysters made pearls.

But the author tells us about a kind of giant clam, Tridacna gigas, that grew the largest pearl: “The Pearl of Lao Tzu” which is privately owned and valued at $93 Million! He also tells us that clams were on earth about 510 million years ago and some of these oldest clam fossils were found in late Cretaceous rock in Kansas and had actually grown pearls.

Razor clams are native to the Pacific Northwest. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times we dug clams when I was a child. My family loves clams and my mom cooked them so many ways. Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest by David Berger shares similar stories of clamming with the family. He also shares many recipes that highlight these tasty critters. David doesn’t mention pearls, but I know in all of my time clamming, we never found any!

Many famous people loved pearls. Elizabeth Taylor owned a fantastic pearl, but it came from an oyster and previously belonged to Mary I of England, and then Elisabeth of France. Eleanor Roosevelt was famous for wearing her pearl necklaces as well. They were as smart looking on her as she was, and she was a strong and accomplished first lady. Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice by Ilene Cooper has great stories about all the things she accomplished.

A completely different take on pearls are the Pearls Before Swine comics by Stephen Pastis. They are quite humorous, but not what one would necessarily call “pearls of wisdom.”

There are lots of mystery stories of stolen pearls and pearl necklaces. Geronimo Stilton stars in a fun series of books for kids. Cavemice, Paws off the Pearl is just one of many adventures that Geronimo and Thea Stilton have. Nancy Drew, The Thirteenth Pearl by Carolyn Keene has Nancy and her friends trying to find a stolen necklace.

Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw by Jeremy Sewall and Marion Lear Swaybill have done for the oyster what Anthony D Fredricks did for the clam. They show different varieties and explain the characteristics of each kind. If you are a fan of oysters, this will make you want to travel the world and try them all! They describe oysters like a fine wine with different hints of flavor depending on where they are from.

Lastly, don’t forget the rule of only eating oysters during a month with a “R” (September to April). This helps replenish oyster supplies by allowing their breeding in the summer and eating them in the cooler months gives them better flavor as well. But you can enjoy clams all year long!