Would You Have Purchased The Largest Freshwater Pearl?

Well, someone did, and it cost a pretty penny.

The world's largest freshwater pearl sold at an auction in the Netherlands on Thursday May 31 for $494,000.

Before you take in the full glory of the gemstone itself, list in your mind a couple of things you would do with a cool half million.

An interesting piece of nature on its own, the pearl comes with 300 years of history attached. Image: AAP

Did the pearl make your list?

Known as 'The Sleeping Lion' for its irregular shape which -- if you squint -- resembles a reclined feline, the pearl is believed to have formed in China between 1700 and 1760 before going on to be owned by Catherine the Great.

While the Japanese trader who reportedly purchased it is most likely over the moon (particularly considering he nabbed it for below estimated value), the pearl's appeal seems to have been lost on some people.

From a microwaved peanut to a raccoon's brain, people are comparing the record-breaking gem to a long list of things of which a sleeping lion is not at the forefront.

The pearl's shape can be attributed to the fact that it's been left untouched by human hands and crafted by Mother Nature alone, says expert Hanco Zwaan.

"Most pearls that you see today are all cultured, created by human intervention," he said.

"This pearl is really formed by a mollusk, somewhere in a river or lake."

Weighing in at a hefty 120 grams, the naturally-formed blister pearl has been heralded as a "true treasure of natural history" by the Swiss Gemmological Institute due not only to its size, but also its historical significance.

Evidently though, not everyone got that message.