World's Largest Freshwater Pearl Up For Auction

Got a spare $770,000? The 'Sleeping Lion' freshwater pearl could be yours.

History buffs and mollusk enthusiasts have cause to celebrate, after news the world's largest-known freshwater pearl is going under the hammer.

Tipping the scales at an incredible 120 grams, the naturally-formed blister pearl is one of the rarest the world has ever seen, and comes with 300 years of history attached.

The 'Sleeping Lion' freshwater Pearl goes up for auction at the Hague on May 31. Photo: Venduehuis

Called 'The Sleeping Lion' for it's irregular shape (sort of) resembling a reclined feline, the natural-coloured wonder is expected to fetch upwards of $770,000 at auction in the Netherlands later this month.

Previous owners included Russian monarch Catherine the Great, European noblemen, merchants and jewellers, after the pearl was first discovered in the 18th century.

Portrait of Empress Catherine II. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to auction house Venduehuis, it first formed in a river or a lake between 1700 and 1760 in Qing dynasty China, and travelled as far as Jakarta, before making its way across Poland, Italy, Russia and Holland.

It first went under the hammer in 1778 in Amsterdam, with auction papers advertising it as a "well-known Royal Cabinet Piece, being a pearl, weighing 578 Carat, depicting a Sleeping Lion, lying in its box."

The latest auction -- slated for May 31 -- will be only the second time the pearl has been publicly up for sale in 240 years.

The treasure is currently owned by the Amsterdam Pearl Society.