A penniless woman’s life may be turned around after she found an orange Melo pearl in her meal which would be worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Kodchakorn Tantiwiwatkul had bought sea snails for 70 baht (£1.65) from a local market for dinner in Satun, Thailand, when she made the shocking discovery.
She was cutting the snails into smaller pieces when she found a round orange object inside one the shells which she initially thought was a rock.
But she was gobsmacked when she learnt it was in fact a six gram Melo pearl, that measures 1.5cm in diameter, and depending on its quality could be worth a small fortune.
Kodchakorn and her family kept the find a secret for fear that the market seller who sold her the snails would ask for the pearl back.
She found the pearl on January 30 and now three months on she had gone public as she plans to sell it to raise funds to pay for her mum’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 dad Niwat Tantiwiwatkul said they desperately need the cash as he has had an accident and his wife needs treatment for cancer so they could face a medical bill of more than a million baht (£23,500).
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.”
Kodchakorn said she hopes by going public a buyer will come forward.
She said: “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.”
Melo pearls range from orange to tan to brown in colour with the former being more valuable.
They are produced by predatory sea snails called Volutidae and usually found in South China Sea and Andaman Sea off the coast of Myanmar.
Last month Monthian Jansuk discovered a similar pearl worth £70,000 nestling inside his £1 sea snail snack.
Officials confirmed that the gem was an extremely rare Melo pearl weighing 65.57 carats (13.11 grams) and the 40-year-old trucker said he was happy to sell the pearl for $33,350 (£24,047) – a third of the estimated price.
In January another Melo pearl, worth £250,000 was found by impoverished fisherman Hatchai Niyomdecha, 37, while picking up shells with his family in the Nakhon Si Thammarat province.
A wealthy businessman from another province heard about the pearl and offered to buy it for one million baht (£25,000) but the family refused.
Another potential buyer from Thailand came forward and offered five million baht (£122,000) but the family still refused as they believed they could get a much higher price for it.
A third potential buyer rom China negotiated with the family to take the pearl for 10 million Baht – its true value price – but he wanted to see for himself if it was genuine.