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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

‘Rarer than diamond’ giant clamshell on display in Dubai

The world’s biggest shell, converted into a bespoke sink, is on sale at Dubai Hotel Show 2017

The clamshell weighed 373 kilograms when it was unearthed. Courtesy Dubai Hotel Show
The clamshell weighed 373 kilograms when it was unearthed. Courtesy Dubai Hotel Show

Is the idea of washing your hands over a 180,000-year-old fossil daunting or delightful? Find out at The Hotel Show being held at Dubai World Trade Centre until September 20, where marine conservationist Volker Bassen’s giant clamshell, painstakingly crafted into a magnificent sink, lies on display.

The shell contained a baroque blister pearl, which is also on display
The shell contained a baroque blister pearl, which is also on display

Bassen, who remodels ancient finds into stunning furnishings, excavated the 373-kilogram shell and its pearl in a limestone quarry along the Kenya-Tanzania border. While the clamshell-sink is for sale, the baroque blister pearl found within is not, but it’s on display alongside.

Marine conservationist Volker Bassen with the shell
Marine conservationist Volker Bassen with the shell

The last clamshell Bassen unearthed sold for US$32,000 (Dh117,500) for a 300kg specimen, during the Tucson Gemstone Mineral & Fossil Showcase 2017 in Arizona.

While Bassen hopes that this piece will be picked up by one of Dubai’s on-trend hotels for its presidential suites, the shell-sink is also up for grabs for private customers.

The archeologist, who runs the East African Whale Shark Trust, says: “Throughout history clamshells have been found along the East African coast. When I first saw one of them 20 years ago, I was amazed by the sheer beauty and size. Now we are able to bring out their beauty by using skilled craftsmen to carefully clean, grind and polish them. It is difficult to say how many are left, but I can promise you that there are more diamonds available in the world compared to these giant clamshells."

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