re-printed from Sotheby’s Auction Catalog….
THE “WALSKA BRIOLETTE DIAMOND” BROOCH, VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, 1971
Designed as a phoenix set with brilliant- and single-cut diamonds of yellow tint, the tail feathers similarly set, accented with pear-shaped emeralds and a cabochon sapphire, suspending from the beak a detachable fancy vivid yellow diamond briolette weighing 96.62 carats,tail feathers detachable into a pair of ear clips and a brooch, brooch signed V.C.A., numbered.
The fancy vivid yellow diamond briolette was purchased at the Sotheby’s (Parke Bernet) auction in New York from the Collection of the Jewels of Madame Ganna Walska which was held in 1971. Van Cleef & Arpels bought the briolette and immediately named it the “Walska Briolette” after the fabled lady and one of their great Patrons.
In 1972 an important American collector commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels to mount the briolette as a present for his wife. The Maison created a transformational piece as a setting for the “Walska Briolette” : a Phoenix in yellow gold set with yellow and white diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. The fabulous 96.62 carat briolette is suspended from the bird’s beak but can be detached and worn separately as a pendant. The birds wings also detach and form a pair of earrings and the tail can be transformed into a brooch. In 2010 the 96.62 carat briolette was graded by the GIA as Fancy Vivid Yellow, VS2 clarity. In 2011, the brooch was sold privately to the current owner, a Distinguished Private Collector, who has consigned it for sale in this auction.
This spectacular brooch has been the centrepiece of recent retrospective international jewellery exhibitions held by Van Cleef & Arpels:
“The Spirit of Beauty”, Mori Arts Center Gallery, Tokyo 2010.
“Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels”, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York 2011.
“The Art of High Jewelry”, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris 2012.