Rivaling the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London and the Hope Diamond in D.C.’s Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the collection of Paris-based maitre joaillierAlexandre Reza features some of the world’s rarest gemstones. To the French designer, a brooch was no standard lapel décor. Among the retired designer’s elaborate pieces is his version of a brooch: a stunning, 134-carat Ceylon unheated sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds (weighing 17 carats each), a pear-shaped one-carat diamond, and 14 additional eight-carat sapphires. That’s over 148 carats.
Established in the 1950s, Alexandre first designed for major jewel houses, such as Cartier. By the mid-’80s he established his own brand. Imagine vibrant and glamorous jewels paired with ’80s hair and blue eyeshadow.
“My father did not follow rules,” Olivier Reza, Alexandre’s son, says. “His character traits…allowed him to approach every aspect (buying, cutting, designing, and making) with a virgin eye driven by his sensitivity and motivated by only one goal: achieve maximum beauty to realize something timeless and perfect.”
Keeping true to his father’s technique and use of only the finest stones, Olivier is carrying on his father’s legacy. “When I took over my father’s business I knew that looking into the past and his legacy were the key foundations to the future of our company and my understanding of what his art was about,” Olivier says.
On Friday, Sotheby’s New York unveiled their first non-auction exhibition. “The Extraordinary Jewelry of Alexandre Reza” features approximately 25 unique vignettes designed by both father and son, which provide a small glimpse into their vast library of gemstones and fine jewelry. Intertwined with Alexandre’s sapphire brooch and untreated, classically designed Colombian emeralds, stand a pair of Olivier’s old mine Colombian emerald earrings and perfectly colored pearl necklace. While embracing modern design, Oliver reflects his father’s values: high quality stones, design and manufacturing. But above all else, both father and son evoke a sense of timelessness throughout their collections. “Seeing his work and mine in the same room made me very emotional and made me realize how much we have both been inspired by beauty,” Olivier says. “Our collection of gems and our ‘savoir faire‘ has allowed us to communicate our passion through the art form represented by ‘haute joaillerie.'”
Following the New York show, which concludes on November 13, the exhibition will travel to Sotheby’s international locations, including London, Doha and Beijing.
Saphire choker composed of 5 unheated oval-shaped Ceylon sapphires weighing 146.10 carats, surrounded by 486 round diamonds of 133.32 carats, 1975.
The “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.
“Rose perlée” necklace set with a Fancy Intense Yellow diamond weighing 2.49 carats and bordered by 3 rose-cut diamonds weighing 12.22 carats, suspending a drop shaped natural pearl, completed by 5 strands of natural pearls, 1996.
Platinum Earrings, composed of Colombian emeralds set in diamond baguettes.
“THE EXTRAORDINARY JEWELRY OF ALEXANDRE REZA” IS ON VIEW AT SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK THROUGH NOVEMBER 13.
All photos courtesy of Sotheby’s.