Feb 21st, 2013
According the Van Cleef & Arpels website, one of their most exquisite special orders is a delicate flying bird carrying a 95 carat briolette-shaped yellow diamond. In the 1930s, this unique gem belonged to the opera singer and socialite Ganna Walska, who wore it as a pendant. Ganna Walska (1887-1984) was a Polish opera singer and her birth name was Hanna Puacz. She was also an avid gardener and created Lotusland, a 37 acre estate and botanical garden east of Santa Barbara, California.
Walska bought the property in 1941 and owned it until her death in 1984. Before her death, Madame Walska established the non-profit Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation, which now preserves this botanical treasure. The brooch and diamond are now privately owned but it occasionally appears at historical jewelry exhibitions.
This remarkable diamond appeared at a Sotheby auction in 1971. One year later it adorned the cover of a Van Cleef & Arpels’ catalogue, flying over the mythical Place Vendôme in the beak of a bird. Its new owner had asked the Maison to combine this exceptional stone with a bird of yellow gold, emeralds, and sapphires in celebration of the birth of her son in 1972.
Ganna Walska’s yellow diamond became the precious bundle carried through the skies by this magical bird.In keeping with Van Cleef Arpels’ tradition of transformability, the bird can metamorphose into a pair of winged earrings and a brooch, while the magnificent yellow diamond can be detached from the brooch and worn alone as a pendant.
Perhaps someday more will be published about this stone.
Van Cleef & Arpels