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The "Walska Briolette Diamond" Brooch: Sotheby's to offer an iconic jewel by Van Cleef & Arpels
The Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A) graded this notable diamond of 96.62 carats as a natural fancy vivid yellow briolette with a VS2 clarity grade. Photo: Sotheby's.

GENEVA.- This November, Sotheby’s Geneva will offer during The Magnificent Jewels sale, The “Walska Briolette Diamond” Brooch, created by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1971. A masterpiece of design, this iconic jewel showcases the historic “Walska Briolette Diamond”, a fancy vivid yellow diamond weighing 96.62 carats. Once in the collection of opera singer and jewellery connoisseur, Ganna Walska, the briolette was subsequently mounted as a brooch and most recently exhibited at Van Cleef & Arpels retrospectives. This sublimely beautiful piece of jewellery is offered for sale in Geneva on November 13th with a pre-sale estimate of $8 million.

Commenting on the forthcoming sale of The “Walska Briolette Diamond” Brooch, David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division in Europe and the Middle East and Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland, said: “The “Walska Briolette Diamond” Brooch is the perfect demonstration of how a great jeweler can emphasize the beauty of a spectacular stone by transforming it into a unique piece. This historic diamond, which is of an extraordinary size for an antique-cut briolette, comes back on the market after 42 years, in a fabulous bespoke piece of jewellery.”

The “Walska Briolette Diamond”. The Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A) graded this notable diamond of 96.62 carats as a natural fancy vivid yellow briolette with a VS2 clarity grade.

History of the Brooch. In 1971, Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the fancy vivid yellow briolette diamond at a Sotheby’s New York auction of the Collection of the Jewels of Madame Ganna Walska. Commissioned a year later by an important American collector, the Maison created a transformational piece as a setting for the “Walska Diamond”, a Bird of Paradise in yellow gold set with yellow and white diamonds, emeralds and a cabochon sapphire. The 96.62-carat diamond, suspended from the bird’s beak, can be detached and worn as a pendant, while the bird’s wings also detach to form a pair of earrings and the tail can be transformed into a brooch.

Ganna Walska. Ganna Walska (1887-1984), the Polish-born opera and concert singer, was a famous international socialite. She married six times and over the course of her lifetime acquired an amazing collection of jewels and fine gemstones. In 1971, she took the decision to sell her jewellery collection, including the briolette diamond, at Sotheby’s to finance the addition of a cycad garden to Lotusland, the magnificent garden near Santa Barbara, California she created and lived in over 40 years.

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