The Philippine government is valuing the dazzling jewellery collection seized three decades ago from Imelda Marcos as it decides what to do with the jewels.
The jewellery was seized from the former first lady when dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii in 1986 following a popular revolt that ended his two decades in power.
The pieces include a barrel-shaped diamond worth at least £3.3 million and a Cartier diamond tiara that is likely to be several times more valuable than the previous estimate of up to £33,000.
The Marcos family allegedly amassed billions of dollars’ worth of ill-gotten wealth, and the dictator’s widow, now 86 and a member of Congress, became known for excesses, symbolised by her huge shoe collection and staggering jewellery.
The jewellery, comprising three sets seized in various locations, was valued at £4.6m when it was last valued in 1991.
But it is likely to have significantly risen in value, according to Andrew de Castro of the presidential commission, who has been tasked with recovering the wealth.
Mr de Castro said the collection is being valued by Christies and Sotheby’s auction houses this week before the government decides whether to auction it.
Putting the jewellery in a museum or an exhibit has been suggested. The jewels have been stored in a vault at the Philippine central bank for nearly 30 years.
David Warren of Christies said: “If I didn’t know where the collection came from, I would probably say it could have come from a royal person.”
A 25-carat Indian pink diamond probably cut in the 18th century and worth at least £3.3m was newly discovered to be part of the collection. It was previously listed as crystal and may have not been shown to valuers, Mr Warren said.
Marcos’ briolette-cut or barrel-shaped pink diamond is from India’s famous Golconda region, which produced rare finds such as the Hope Diamond and a 500-carat diamond that is part of the British crown jewels.
Pink diamonds are very rare. Mr Warren said a 16-carat vivid pink diamond was sold by Christie’s this month in Geneva for almost £19m.
The provenance of the jewellery could radically increase prices should the pieces be auctioned, Mr Warren said. .