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Rare pink diamond found in Marcos collection

A KING’S RANSOM: This diamond-studded necklace, seized by the Philippine government from former first lady Imelda Marcos, was presented to the media at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas office in Manila yesterday. Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines – A rare 25-carat, barrel-shaped pink diamond has been found among the jewelry collection of former first lady Imelda Marcos, Christie’s said yesterday after the government asked the auction house to appraise her collection of rare stones.

The government could decide to auction the collection after Christie’s and rival Sotheby’s appraise three sets of jewelry confiscated almost three decades ago after the fall of Imelda’s husband, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“We had an extremely exciting find,” said David Warren, director of jewelry at London-based Christie’s. “We found an old briolette-cut diamond, which is 25 carats. It has a distinct pink color. Pink diamonds are exceedingly rare.”

He said the diamond could be valued at $5 million and would significantly increase the value of the entire collection if the collection is auctioned. The three sets in the collection, composed of over 700 pieces of jewelry, were valued at $6 million to 8 million in 1991.

Only three pure, vivid pink diamonds of more than 10 carats have appeared for sale in almost 250 years of auction history, according to Christie’s.

A large cushion-shaped, pink-hued diamond sold for $28.55 million at the Christie’s semi-annual jewelry sale in Geneva on Nov. 10.

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PCGG commissioner Andrew de Castro said there were several jewels previously overlooked and not correctly appraised.

For instance, the pink diamond – a part of the so-called Hawaii Collection – was only previously identified as one of the “loose jewels” in the collection and was not appraised separately. Other valuable items might cost as much as $1 million per piece.

“But we have to wait for the final appraisal,” he stressed, noting that he could not give an initial estimate of the total worth of the three collections as the appraisal is still ongoing.

“We expect them to be higher now,” he said, noting changes in the valuation in the past two decades.

On Monday, the PCGG and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) began the weeklong appraisal of the three collections stored at a vault in Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in Manila.

Foreign experts from acclaimed fine arts auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s flew in to determine the value of the collections, composed mostly of different kinds of jewelry, as well as luxury bags and watches. After the appraisal by Christie’s, a team from Sotheby’s will have their turn.

PCGG chairman Richard Amurao said the appraisal is a significant step to finally assess the collection and determine its current value, and “that due to the vast quantity of jewelry it will take at least five days” for teams to go over it.

“This will significantly open the way for determining a final resolution on the said assets, including possible auction,” he added.

The PCGG said a final decision required the approval of other agencies, and that the Marcos widow and children were still disputing the ownership of part of the collection before the Supreme Court.

Imelda Marcos’ lawyer Robert Sison said in a statement that ownership of the jewels was still subject to litigation. He described the appraisal as a “very obvious political stunt.”

‘Complete, intact’

The Marcos collection, believed to be part of the ill-gotten wealth of the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos, is divided into three sets – the Hawaii, Roumeliotes and Malacañang collections. 

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