Walska Diamond Bird of Paradise Brooch Flies Away With $10.6 Million

The finely jeweled feathers of this bird of paradise are arresting in their own right. But it’s the vivid yellow diamond suspended from the beak that drove bidding to $10.6 million—a record high price for any Van Cleef & Arpels piece at a Nov. 13 Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva. The 96.62 ct. stone—known as the Walska Briolette ­Diamond, after its former owner, opera singer Ganna Walska—was set in the yellow gold brooch in 1971 by Van Cleef & Arpels. The piece is as versatile as it is stunning: The diamond detaches from the brooch to become a pendant, the wings unfasten to form a pair of earrings, and the tail can be transformed into a smaller brooch. “This iconic jewel generated enthusiasm across the world,” says David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division in Europe and the Middle East. “It’s a masterpiece of design.”

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