are large and non-nacreous
, and are formed naturally in the very large Melo Melo sea snail. This snail is also called the Indian volute or bailer shell, which is a marine gastropod mollusk living in Southeast Asia, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, the South China Sea and the Philippines. The Melo Melo sea snails can, though rarely, grow to almost a foot in length; however, six to seven inches is more the norm.
The Melo Melo sometimes produces Pearls, all of which lack nacre
– which consists of the luminescent accretions set down in multiple layers by other Pearl-producing mollusk
s, such as oysters.
Melo Pearls, like their host, are very large compared to most Pearls. They are also very round, and range in color from tan to dark brown, though some of them achieve the same orange hue of the mollusk’s shell, and these are the most sought after. They present with almost a porcelain finish, rather than the iridescence
of most pearls. Similar to the Conch Pearl, the colors of the Melo Pearl may fade over time.
Unlike other mollusks, which have been successfully cultured, or farmed, the Melo Melo sea snail has not lent itself successfully to that endeavor, instead maintaining its special status as a gastropod which only rarely is found to contain its naturally produced non-nacreous Pearl. The novelty of the Pearl, as is always the case, leads to its value. Some have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars in Asia.
The Melo Pearl has been known in Asia for some time, but has only recently been introduced to the West. One well-known Melo Pearl was sold that was as large as a golf ball. It was one of a pair – twin Pearls – of monstrous size having been found in one gigantic sea snail. The extreme length of time that is required to form accretions of this heft make it unlikely that many others of their dimensions will soon – or ever – be found.