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Abu Dhabi, May 3
: The world's largest available natural pearl is set to be auctioned in this Emirates' capital on Friday.

The 575 carat pearl from 12th century Mongolia was formerly owned by Chinese emperors, Persian kings, the grandson of Genghis Khan and Marco Polo.

It will be up for bidding in Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace and on the Internet, where it is estimated to raise up to $8 million.

At least 400 people from around the Emirates and the Gulf countries as well as from India, China, the UK, the US and Tahiti are expected to attend the auction.

The value of the 7.87 cm saltwater pearl known as the "Arco Valley pearl" is based on its size, colour, weight, exclusivity, history and previous records of what people have been prepared to pay for similar precious items.

"It's 800 years old and it still takes your breath away," said Khaled al-Sayegh, 35, a jeweller from Abu Dhabi and chairman of the organizing committee for the event.

Arco Valley is the biggest pearl for sale in the world, but not the largest in size. The 24 cm Pearl of Allah carries that title. It was found by a diver off the Philippine island of Palawan in 1934 but is not up for sale and is stored in a museum in the Philippines.

The Arco Valley pearl, named after a previous owner from Austria's Arco Valley family dynasty, is white with a touch of blue and mixed with pink and cream colours on its sides. It has been drilled three times: to fit among the jewels of an unknown lady's tiara, to go with a ceremonial mandarin suit and to fit a crown or turban decorated with precious stones belonging to a Persian king. 


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