Kathy Desalvo's hopes for the New Year are sky high after sitting down for dinner and finding a pearl in her plate of oysters.
Her discovery was made New Year's Eve at William B's, a steakhouse at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.
"I thought 2013 wasn't a great year so this might be a sign 2014 is going to be my year," said Desalvo, of Lisle, Ill.
She and her husband, Paul, checked into their hotel room at the casino and later had a seat in the restaurant.
Desalvo, 56, ordered a plate of oysters Rockefeller, and once her meal was served began to dig in.
After she put the second oyster from the half shell into her mouth, Desalvo said she felt something foreign and spit it out.
Still not knowing what the object was she handed the egg shaped object to a waitress to show to the chef who soon informed her it was a pearl.
Her luck didn't extend to the casino, though, leaving the slot machines empty handed.
"I didn't win anything," Desalvo said.
Desalvo said word of her find quickly spread, and she heard people as she was walking by on occasion chatting that someone in the restaurant found a pearl inside an oyster.
"I guess it was the buzz around the restaurant that night," said Desalvo.
Apparently, such a find is rare.
Chandra Michaels has been a chef at Portofino restaurant in LaPorte for 11 years and never has any of her customers come across a pearl in the oysters served up there.
And, none of the cooks while cracking open the oysters they're preparing have ever made such a find.
"That's a good way to start the New Year," said Michaels.
The pearl may not be worth a whole lot, though.
Mary Mitri, of Engstrom Jewelers in LaPorte, would not guess at the value of the pearl without actually seeing it.
However, she said the most valuable ones are perfectly round and the egg shaped ones like Desalvo's are known as "slug pearls," which have lesser value.
She said the price for pearls range anywhere from $50 to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a string.
Other factors in determining value include luster and origin of the pearl.
Fior example, among the most sought after Pearls are the perfectly round, shiny ones from Tahiti.
"Pearls are tricky," Mitri said.
Desalvo, owner of an environmental consulting and hazardous materials safety training company, said she plans to have a gemologist polish up the pearl and, perhaps, put it on a necklace to wear "for good luck."