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The Oiseau clip (1971-1972): a legendary yellow diamond
This clip, depicting a bird in flight, is one of the most singular special orders in the Maison’s history. It gives prominence to a 96.62-carat briolette-cut yellow diamond known as the “Walska Briolette.” In the 1930s, this gemstone belonged to opera singer and socialite Ganna Walska, who wore it as a pendant. In 1971, the stone was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. A few months later, it was featured on the cover of a Van Cleef & Arpels catalogue, held in the beak of a precious bird flying over Place Vendôme.
Poster of Bird clip and Walska pendant, Van Cleef & Arpels Archives
The stone’s new owner had indeed commissioned the Maison to re-set this rare jewel in a clip as a gift for his wife upon the birth of their son. The 1971-1972 Oiseau clip was also embellished with a cabochon sapphire, emeralds, as well as yellow and white diamonds.
In keeping with Van Cleef & Arpels’ tradition of transformable pieces, the bird’s wings can also be detached and worn as earrings. The tail becomes a clip, while the yellow diamond can grace the neck as a pendant.
Sober, colorful or sparkling, over the years the Minaudière has exhibited a variety of designs echoing changing eras and influences. From the smooth black lacquers of the 1930s to the artistic and nature-inspired decors of the 1950s, not to mention the dreamlike compositions of the 2000s, their precious motifs offer a quintessential note of refinement to exalt feminine figures.