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Monster 575-carat pearl expected to fetch $8M US

A giant 575-carat pearl measuring nearly eight centimetres will likely fetch bids of up to $8 million US on Thursday, auction organizers in Abu Dhabi said.

Agiant 575-carat pearl measuring nearly eight centimetres will likely fetch bids of up to $8 million US on Thursday, auction organizers in Abu Dhabi said.

"It's 800 years old and it still takes your breath away," said jeweller Khaled al-Sayegh, the chairman of the organizing committee for Thursday's auction at Emirates Palace.

The prized Arco Valley Pearl, named after an owner who was part ofAustria's Arco Valley aristocracy, was once in the possession of Chinese emperors and Persian kings. Auction officials also said Mongol emperor Kublai Khan also at one point owned the pearl.

The tooth-shaped, saltwater pearl is now privately owned. The gleaminggem is white in colour with pink and yellow overtones.

The pearl, which was drilled three times to be fitted into various costumes and a tiara, has been fully restored to its original form.

Proceeds from the sale will be directed to charities and will also be used to sponsor a Gulf Pearl travelling museum to help spark interest in the region's struggling pearl industry.

Auction organizers said they expect at least 400 people from around the globe to attend the auction.

The largest pearl on record is the Pearl of Allah, measuring 24 centimetres and weighing 6.5 kg, which was discovered off the coast of the Philippines island of Palawan in 1934.

With files from the Associated Press

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