Alexandre Reza Was a 20th-Century Jewelry Legend—Now It's His Son's Turn

olivier reza

You might say it was filial piety that brought Olivier Reza into the fold of his father Alexandre’s business. Reza Sr. had built a reputation as one of the greatest gem collectors of the 20th century—for years he helped fortify the coffers of such maisons as Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier, before joining their glittering stables on Paris’s Place Vendôme with the opening of his eponymous brand’s first store in 1981. But by the mid-aughts the legendary jeweler to the rich, famous, and royal had become too sick to carry on. “There was nobody to take care of it, so I took it upon myself to preserve the brand,” Olivier says. “And when I looked at the heritage, it was very difficult to turn my back on it. This was put together to be continued.” (Alexandre died in 2016, at 93.)

olivier reza
A father-son portrait of Olivier and Alexandre Reza. Olivier Reza

“I learned who my father was by looking at what he had collected. And I realized how fortunate I was, because he had very good taste, and he left us such a deep and wide set of stones, which are still surprising me.”

So what exactly has he done with the keys to the treasure chest? He has set a 7-carat cabochon Colombian emerald in a faceted ring of brushed, diamond-flecked rose gold, the piece’s sculptural bones a direct link to Dad’s archives, while its streamlined design is unmistakably Olivier’s. Elsewhere, the navy blue radiance of a Kashmir sapphire takes center stage, surrounded by a supporting cast of baguette diamonds.

White and yellow gold are molded into a pair of crescent-shaped earrings and studded with emeralds from Pakistan. “I want to make sure we stay very true to our legacy, which is about beautiful gemstones accumulated over decades for their color, their fire, their attractiveness, and the objective to create a beautiful form to host them,” Olivier says. “Jewelry is something you can’t rush.”

There is, however, a 21st-century twist to this narrative. First, the world of Reza has gone digital, capitalizing on a trend that got started during the pandemic: collectors shelling out millions online for high jewelry. And it has moved everything to New York, leaving Place Vendôme for a sky-high atelier on Madison Avenue. “There is an energy here that fits well with the dynamic I want for this brand,” Olivier says. “New York brings this melting pot of cultures—a looseness, less rigor, much fun and composition.” Whereas his father had flagships in Paris, Monte Carlo, Cannes, and Geneva, Olivier believes a simplified approach—and an emphasis on e-commerce—makes sense for this modern era. “Online is the way to communicate. Collectors are everywhere in the world,” he says. “If you try to have a shop everywhere they are, the message gets diluted.”

It also means he isn’t beholden to a strict production calendar. Jewels are created as inspiration strikes, layered into series that incorporate both fresh designs and evolutions of his father’s work. And it will always be about celebrating these stones—which, by the way, he believes should be worn every day. “I know some people who would wear that at breakfast,” Olivier says, pointing to a chunky rose gold ring with a 12.46-carat Burmese spinel flanked by two emeralds. “Some collectors are like Joan Collins in Dynasty.”

This story appears in the February 2023 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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