The Palawan Princess – the second largest non-nacreous baroque pearl discovered from the giant clam, Tridacna gigas.
Origin of Name
The “Palawan Princess” weighing 5 pounds (2.27 kg or 11,340 carats) is the second largest non-nacreous baroque pearl discovered from the giant clam Tridacna gigas, off the coast of the Island of Palawan, in the Philippines, a natural habitat of the giant clam. The largest ever non-nacreous baroque pearl discovered from the giant clam, weighing 14.1 pounds (6.395 kg or 31,978 carats) was also discovered from the same habitat off the coast of Palawan, in 1934, and is popularly known as the “Pearl of Allah” based on Wilburn Cobb’s legend of the “Pearl of Allah” published in the magazine “Natural History” of New York’s American Museum of Natural History, in November 1939, which is now believed to be a fabrication. According to this legend the “Pearl of Allah” was discovered by a Muslim diver off the coast of Palawan, whose hands were trapped when the valves of the clam snapped shut, and thus met with his untimely death, a story that is scientifically untenable. The pearl was presented to the chief of the native Dayaks, who is said to have named it the “Pearl of Allah” because human-like features on the pearl was believed to be a miraculous representation of the Prophet Muhammad, the messenger of Allah. Doubts, have been cast by historians about the truth of this story, as most of the inhabitants of Palawan at the time the pearl was discovered, were Christians, who were evangelized by the Spanish missionaries in the 19th-century. The Dayak Chief gave the so-called “Pearl of Allah” to Wilburn Cobb, as an appreciation for saving his son’s life, who had contracted Malaria, something he would not have done if the pearl had any religious significance associated with it. Thus the name “Pearl of Allah” is purely derived from the unsubstantiated story appearing in the “Natural History” magazine of November 1939.
It is not known how the name “Palawan Princess” originated. The pearl is said to have been discovered by a professional diver, who did not meet with an unfortunate accident as the ill-fated diver who discovered the “Pearl of Allah” did. The pearl has a striking resemblance to the Cerebrum of the human brain. Even certain regions of the “Pearl of Allah” has such similarities. The “Palawan Princess” has no human features like the “Pearl of Allah.” Hence the name “Palawan Princess” cannot be attributed to any human features on the pearl, like the “Pearl of Allah.” The name undoubtedly reflects the place of origin of the pearl, Palawan Islands in the Philippines, which has also earned the unique distinction of being the location where the largest pearl in the world, the “Pearl of Allah” was discovered. Thus the Palawan Islands have now earned the double-distinction of being the location where not only the largest pearl in the world was discovered, but also the second largest pearl, the “Palawan Princess.” The largest pearl, the “Pearl of Allah” is undoubtedly the “King” or “Prince” of all pearls. In this sense the name “Palawan Princess” is quite appropriate for the second largest pearl, also discovered from the same region.