A Sapphire as Big as the Ritz

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 joaillier Alexandre 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.