A seafood lover who bought an oyster to cure his hangover beat odds of a million-to-one – after finding a rare pearl inside.
James Humphries, 34, bought two fresh oysters from his local fishmongers to help ease a headache caused by too much beer the night before.
But he got more than he bargained for after tucking into one of the shellfish and felt a ”lump” in his mouth.
Warehouse manager James, of Newquay, Cornwall, thought he’d lost a filling but spat out a perfectly round pearl.
Experts say the find is very rare as natural pearls are normally found in pearl oysters – not pacific oysters that James had bought.
The fishmonger who sold it to him said his family business had never seen a pearl in a pacific oyster – in 80 years of trading.
James said: “I eat a couple of oysters every Saturday morning. They are the perfect hangover cure – refreshing, tasty, and much better than a can of Red Bull.
“I was eating a couple when I noticed a lump of something in my mouth. I thought a filling had fallen out.
“It was only when I spat it out I discovered it was a pearl. It’s small but perfectly formed and I absolutely love it.
“I’m thinking of getting it made into a piece of jewellery, possibly a little silver fish with the pearl for its eye.”
James bought his oyster from E Rawle & Co fishmongers in Newquay which is run by Gareth Horner after it was founded by his grandfather in 1936.
Gareth said: “I’m not a marine biologist but this must be pretty rare. I’ve been here for 30 years and sold thousands of oysters – but I’ve never seen a pearl come out of one.
“My dad has been in the business even longer and he’s never heard of it either.”
The most valuable pearls occur spontaneously in the wild but are extremely rare.
Cultured or farmed pearls from pearl oysters and freshwater mussels make up the majority on sale.
Heather Bell of Newquay’s Little Gem jewellers said: “It’s difficult to put an exact price on this but given the rarity, its a priceless find for James.
“It’s very round, its has a wonderful lustre – it’s a beautiful pearl.”
Experts said finding a pearl in a pacific oyster is “extremely rare”.
Paul Cox of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth said: “It’s extremely rare for pearls to occur naturally in the wild.
“They are normally formed when a bit of grit gets into the oyster and the oyster forms a pearl by gradually laying down calcium carbonate around it.
“Most of the pearls you see are cultivated or come from pearl oysters. I’ve never come across anyone who has found a wild pearl before.
“It’s extremely unusual and he’s a very lucky man.”