PARIS — Jeweler Alexandre Reza, reputed as the greatest gem merchant and collector of his generation, has died in Geneva at age 93.
Born in Moscow in 1922, Reza moved to France with his family as a young child, settling in Nice, where he took over his father’s precious-stone trading business at the age of 18.
After World War II, he established a reputation as an expert and traveled the world to source gemstones for major jewelers including Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, Chaumet, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels. In parallel, he began designing and producing high jewelry pieces for jewelers and private clients.
In 1971, he transferred the house’s headquarters to 21 Place Vendôme, where he set up his own studio in 1979. In 1984, Reza opened salons set up over two floors, followed by stores in Geneva, Cannes and Monte Carlo.
Reza staged a number of major exhibitions, including “Alexandre Reza: Dreams of Yesterday, Realities of Today” at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris in 1985; “Paris Opera on Stage” at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York in 1988, and “The Extraordinary Jewelry of Alexandre Reza” at Sotheby’s in New York in 2013.
His son Olivier took over the reins of the family business in 2008 and set about modernizing it for a new generation of global clients, including wealthy consumers from emerging countries such as China. He closed the brand’s stores to focus its retail business at the Place Vendôme flagship in Paris.
Reza is survived by his wife, Karin; his children Guy, Didier, Alexandra and Olivier, and his grandchildren Danielle, Gabriel, Leana, Alexandre, Allegra, Ella and Adrien. His funeral will take place at the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris on Jan. 21, his family said in a death notice published in French daily newspaper Le Figaro.