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Sotheby's Prices 'Walska Briolette Diamond Brooch' at $8M

Oct 4, 2013 12:23 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Sotheby’s Geneva will offer the “Walska Briolette Diamond Brooch,” created by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1971, during its magnificent jewels sale on November 13. This  masterpiece design highlights the historic “Walska Briolette Diamond” that weighs 96.62 carats and was graded as a fancy vivid yellow, and it is priced to sell at $8 million.
This special stone was once in the collection of opera singer and jewelry connoisseur Ganna Walska, but the briolette diamond was subsequently mounted as a brooch and most recently exhibited at Van Cleef & Arpels retrospectives. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) described the briolette as a natural, fancy vivid yellow diamond and assigned a VS2 clarity gradebriolette diamond

David Bennett, the chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry division in Europe and the Middle East, 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 jewelry.”

According to the auction house, in 1971, Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the briolette diamond at the Sotheby’s New York sale of Walska's jewelry collection. The jeweler was then commissioned to transform the briolette into a bird of paradise with 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.

The piece was been an important element of a recent retrospective jewelry exhibition, the “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels” in 2011, at the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, and in 2012 at the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition “The Art of High Jewelry” in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Walska was born in 1887 in Poland and became an opera and concert singer. She married six times and over the course of her lifetime acquired a large collection of jewels and fine gemstones. In 1971, she sold her jewelry collection through Sotheby’s to finance the addition of a cycad garden to Lotusland - her magnificent landscape spread near Santa Barbara, California- where she lived for more than 40 years. Walska died in 1984.

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Tags: auction, briolette, brooch, geneva, Jeff Miller, jewels, Sotheby's, walska diamond
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