Style / Jewellery

Obituary: Alexandre Reza, Jeweler to the Stars

Reza, whose elite clientele included the ill-fated Dodi al-Fayed and Princess Diana, amassed one of the world’s most impressive collections of gemstones.

Jan 21, 2016 | By null

Some gem collectors amass a hoard of both specific and random treasures. Russian-born jeweler Alexandre Reza who died January 15 was the opposite. Reza, whose elite clientele included the ill-fated Dodi al-Fayed and Princess Diana, is perhaps the only collector of gemstones who pursued very specific gems and passed the better part of his collection on. The beneficiaries were his clients from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Harry Winston, Bulgari and Chaumet. He spent three decades doing this and yet in 2013, auction house Sotheby’s declared that the library of his own eponymous maison was “hardly unrivaled in size, breadth and quality.” The man known as the master jeweler to the stars was an undisputed giant.

His Paris-based company, headed by son Olivier since 2008, announced his passing in Geneva aged 93, on January 19. Reza died Friday last after a long illness.

Olivier Reza’s description of his father in a 2014 New York Times article sums up the late Reza’s reputation perfectly: “The real métier of haute joaillerie, as it was established by Louis Cartier, Frédéric Boucheron, Laurence Graff, Jacques Arpels and my father, draws primarily on passion.”

Alexandre Reza was himself the son of an ethnic Iranian jeweler and was born in Soviet Moscow in 1922. The family fled the turmoil of the Russian Revolution for the relative tranquil of Paris in 1925, where Alexandre would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps. Initially, he was a gemologist who was much sought-after for his expert eye. Eventually Reza found that he also had an eye for design and craftsmanship by simply following the old code of jewelry design: always be led by the stone.

Reza’s passion, acumen and connections allowed him to trade in a massive number of stones, building for his own maison one of the world’s largest collections of natural and untreated stones.

This report was compiled by in-house writers, in combination with a wire report from the AFP and an image from our archive, an item in the Sotheby’s 2013 tribute exhibition to Alexandre Reza. No image has been released of Alexandre Reza by his estate.

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