Lindsay and Chris Hasz left their kids at home to enjoy dinner at Montalcino Ristorante Italiano in Issaquah, Washington, but the pricey meal paid for itself when Lindsay bit into something hard hidden in her entree, an order of frutti di mare - a mix of seafood and and shellfish.
“I knew it wasn’t a shell because it didn’t crack, and in fact, I thought I was going to break my tooth,” she told The Issaquah Press.
Lindsay quickly realized it was a dark purple pearl, but she didn’t realize it came from her dish. "I thought maybe it was an earring from an employee in the kitchen and it fell into my dish," she told KOMO News. She took the gem home and, after some digging online, she realized it looked like a rare Quahog pearl.
Lindsay took her find to Ted Irwin of Northwest Geological Laboratory in Bellevue, Washington, but he initially believed Lindsay’s assessment of the pearl was wrong.
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“I have heard that scenario in my 35 year career and it has turned out to be nothing much," Irwin said. He even told Lindsay that it was possible that someone was playing a joke on her because it was “so round and perfect.”
Still, Irwin sent the pearl into a lab for testing, which confirmed that Lindsay’s suspicions. “I rarely see them here at all. This is really more indigenous to the East Coast,” Irwin told The Issaquah Press.
Quahog clams are usually found on the East Coast and it’s rare to find a naturally produced pearl with nearly perfect symmetry, like the one Lindsay found. "One in a couple million is of gem quality, so it is a very rare occurrence," Irwin said.
Irwin estimates that the pearl is worth $600, but Lindsay says she will likely make a necklace out of her find. The restaurant’s owners, Fernando and Cindy Nardone, were also thrilled with Lindsay’s find.
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“It shows we serve nothing but the best,” Cindy Nardone said.