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Christmas came early for one lucky diner at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Manhattan when he found a pearl in his fish stew which included six oysters.
Rick Antosh has been a regular at the oyster bar in Grand Central Station for years and the $14.75 pan roast was his usual order. However, this time when he got stuck in, he felt something smooth and hard in his mouth, which initially he thought might have been a tooth.
"For a fraction of a second, there was terror. Is it a tooth? Is it a filling?", he told the New York Post.
It turned out to be a pea-sized pearl which he has yet to have valued. Antosh was extremely lucky as naturally occurring pearls are very rare, in 1 in every 10,000 oysters.
"I've been here 28 years," said Sandy Ingber, the restaurant's executive chef. "This is only the second time I've seen this happen. And we sell over 5000 oysters on the half shell every day."
Pearls are formed when an external intruder or parasite enters the oyster and the organism forms a pearl sac around it, depositing calcium carbonate to envelope the irritant.
Single natural pearls are often sold as collectors’ items or used as centrepieces in unique jewellery. Matched strands of natural pearls are extremely rare and very valuable. It is said that jeweller Henry Cartier bought his Fifth Avenue mansion in 1917, now the New York Cartier store for a double strand of matched natural pearls, valued at the time at $1million