A Bureau of Customs appraiser shows to the media a set of jewelry from Roumeliotes Collection, one of three sets of the Marcos Jewelry Collection, during appraisal at the Central Bank of the Philippines Tuesday in Manila, Philippines.
A Bureau of Customs appraiser shows to the media a set of jewelry from Roumeliotes Collection, one of three sets of the Marcos Jewelry Collection, during appraisal at the Central Bank of the Philippines Tuesday in Manila, Philippines.

The Philippine government is appraising millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry seized three decades ago from Imelda Marcos, the former first lady known mainly for her massive stash of shoes, as it decides what to do with the dazzling collection. The jewelry collection, which includes a diamond worth at least $5 million, was seized when Marcos’ family fled to Hawaii in 1986 following a popular revolt that ended her husband’s two decades in power.

Late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ family allegedly amassed billions of dollars’ worth of ill-gotten wealth. His widow, now 86 and a member of Congress, became known for excesses, symbolized by her huge shoe collection and staggering jewelry. The jewelry collection, comprising three sets seized in various locations, was valued at $5-7 million when it was last appraised in 1988 and 1991.

The collection, however, is likely to have significantly risen in value, Andrew de Castro, of the presidential commission tasked to recover the wealth, said Tuesday. The jewelry will be appraised before the government decides whether to auction it off, he said, calling the collection a physical manifestation of excesses during the Marcos regime at a time when many Filipinos were suffering in poverty. There also are suggestions that the jewelry could be put in a museum or an exhibit.

David Warren of Christie’s auction house said the collection, which has been stored by the Philippine central bank for nearly 30 years, is comparable to those owned by royalty. “If I didn’t know where the collection came from, I would probably say it could have come from a royal person,” said Warren, who was among a Christie’s team that inspected the jewelry on Tuesday. Among the collection’s pieces is a newly discovered 25-carat Indian pink diamond probably cut in the 18th century and worth at least $5 million. Pink diamonds are exceedingly rare. A 16-carat pink diamond was sold by Christie’s this month in Geneva for $28.5 million, Warren said.

The briolette-cut pink diamond in the Marcos collection is from India’s famous Golconda region, which produced rare finds including the Hope Diamond and a 500-carat diamond that is part of the British crown jewels. Diamond pieces held up for photographers Tuesday by customs employees who removed them from plastic wrappings included various necklaces with diamonds ranging from the size of corn kernels to fat almonds, strung together like a lei of chandeliers.-AP