The Extraordinary Jewels of Alexandre Reza
Schlumberger. Rosenthal. Webb.
To most, these names represent the very best in 20th century jewelry design. None of these men, however, could have produced their greatest works without the help and influence of Alexandre Reza, a French gem merchant who became one of the most influential master jewelers of the late 20th century.
On Friday, Sotheby’s unveiled The Extraordinary Jewelry of Alexandre Reza, a retrospective exhibition of 25 of the finest jewels from Reza’s personal collection. On display are archival pieces of Reza’s earliest work, several of his most superb jewelry suites, and new designs by son Olivier Reza.
The exceptional and expertly executed “trembleur” emerald suite, the necklace features 3 emerald-cut emeralds of 8.24 carats, 30 D color, Internally Flawless pear-shaped diamonds of 36.25 carats, and 135 additional round brilliant, pear-shaped and navette-shaped diamonds weighing 21.66 carats. Bracelet is composed of an emerald-cut emerald of 3.12 carats, along with 10 predominantly D color, Internally Flawless pear-shaped diamonds of 11.22 carats, and completed by 95 pear-shaped diamonds weighing 23.62 carats. The earrings feature 4 emerald-cut emeralds weighing a total of 6.37 carats surrounded by 20 predominantly D color, Internally Flawless pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 16.19 carats, further accented by 42 round brilliant, pear-shaped and navette-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 6.48 carats, 1979.
Highly important sapphire and diamond suite, the necklace featuring 600 round and emerald-cut diamonds weighing 82.93 carats, set with 9 unheated emerald-cut Burmese and Ceylon sapphires weighing 151.45 carats. The ring centered by an unheated emerald-cut Burmese sapphire of 31.93 carats, surrounded by 26 round and emerald-cut diamonds weighing 4.39 carats. The bracelet set with 5 unheated emerald-cut Ceylon sapphires weighing 44.76 carats, surrounded by 115 round and emerald-cut diamonds weighing 11.96 carats. The earrings suspending 2 unheated emerald-cut Ceylon sapphires of 15.82 carats, along with 60 round and emerald-cut diamonds weighing 6.87 carats, 1981.
Refugee to Maitre Joaillier
Alexandre Reza was born in Moscow in 1922 to a Jewish family of Samarkand heritage. In 1925, the Reza family escaped religion persecution in Russia and fled to France, where young Alexandre trained under his father as a gem cutter and merchant. After serving in the French resistance during World War II, Reza began to travel the world in search of valuable gemstones. Reza crisscrossed the globe, traveling to markets and auctions. He was particularly famous for his willingness to travel directly to the mine for a negotiation.
Alexandre Reza. Photo courtesy Town & Country
For three decades, Reza supplied gems to the world’s great jewelry houses. When Cartier, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels or countless others needed something truly magnificent, they turned to Reza. Over time, Reza amassed an unparalleled personal gem collection said to rival even the most legendary royal house. By the ’60s, Reza was setting his stones in pieces of his own design and sending the finished jewelry along to his clients. In 1981, at a time in his life when most men retire, Reza opened his own atelier on the famed Place Vendôme.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Reza was established a reputation as the jeweller to the world’ s rich, famous, and royal. His best works were exquisitely crafted suites and parures of jewelry, including “Toi et Moi” diamond rings and trembleur jewels.
A magnificent sapphire choker composed of 5 unheated oval-shaped Ceylon sapphires weighing 146.10 carats, surrounded by 486 round diamonds of 133.32 carats, 1975.
A magnificent pear-shaped Fancy Vivid Blue, Internally Flawless diamond weighing 5.35 carats matched with a pear-shaped D color, Internally Flawless diamond of 5.42 carats, “Toi et Moi” design by Olivier Reza.
Olivier Reza with his mother, Karin. Photo courtesy Town & Country
Reza retired from the jewelry in 2008 and closed the salon on Place Vendôme. Three years later, Reza’s son Olivier left a successful international banking career to take over the family business, and the salon was re-opened. Olivier Reza has begun to design jewelry under his father’s influence, and personally selected each piece for the Sotheby’s exhibition.
The Extraordinary Jewelry of Alexandre Reza runs through November 13. The exhibition will then travel to Doha, London and Beijing.
The extraordinary “Notre Dame” clip set with an unheated oval-shaped Ceylon sapphire of 133.63 carats, along with 14 round diamonds weighing 16.95 carats, bordered by 14 pear-shaped sapphires of 8.22 carats, further accented by 49 yellow diamonds of 1.60 carats and completed at the top with a pear-shaped diamond of .94 carat, 1980.
An impressive geometric ring featuring an emerald-cut diamond weighing 9.88 carats and framed by 2 half-moon shaped Colombian emeralds weighing 11.44 carats, design by Olivier Reza.