By Ashley Davis
Reza’s Branches Courtes earrings feature an unheated emerald-cut Burmese sapphire weighing 4.77 carats, a pear-shaped minimum oil SSEF Brazilian emerald weighing 2.67 carats, 18 marquise-shaped diamonds, six pear-shaped diamonds and 10 brilliant-cut diamonds all set in sandblasted and polished 18-karat white gold.
New York--The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) is first and foremost a visual art and antiques fair, but since launching its New York biennial in 2016 it’s also become the New York base for a few noteworthy jewelry designers.

One of these is Reza, the Parisian high jeweler with a salon on the iconic Place Vendôme.

The business was launched 40 years ago by Alexandre Reza, a Russian immigrant to France who hailed from a family of jewelers. Reza developed an expertise for gemstones, and used it to supply stones and design jewelry for many of the Place Vendôme’s jewelry houses.

Eventually he went out on his own, opening a handful of stores.

A decade ago, Alexandre’s son Olivier took the helm.

“I decided to focus and operate just from one location and make a few pieces a year, most of them really unique, original designs mostly influenced by the stone and the moment and what I believe collectors are looking for,” explained the younger Reza at this year’s TEFAF New York Spring show.

Reza is, like his father, an expert in gemstones and design. Creatively he and one other designer are responsible for envisioning the house’s 40 to 60 pieces per year, many of them one-of-a-kind; a team of additional designers helps execute the details of each specific jewel.

For Reza, staying true to his father’s heritage means striking a balance between the power of a gemstone and resonance of design.

“Our DNA is one that is more subtle than big brands that want to have a very specific iconic image,” he explained. “We still use very important and special gems so the design cannot overshadow that. We have to find always the right balance.

20180508 Reza insert copyPictured on display at TEFAF, the Double Swing Ring features two marquise-shaped diamonds—an E-color internally flawless stone weighing 3.08 carats and a fancy intense yellow diamond weighing 3.59 carats—on a spiral of calibrated diamonds enhanced by pink and orange brilliant-cut diamonds, set in yellow and white gold.

“We make jewelry that is wearable with designs that transcend the stones that are on the pieces. So the stones are always on their own unique and special but we want to contribute a design and manufacture that is also unique and special to create a combination that becomes a collectible piece.”

Reza likens this relationship between material and design to require the talents of a composer, rather than a mere designer.

He explained: “With jewelry you have the functionality aspect. It needs to look good. It needs to make the woman or man feel better. Then you have the stones and the choice of the stones you want to put in motion and then you have the design that carries those stones. These three aspects need to work together to make something harmonious. That’s why I call it a composition.”

To reach the American connoisseur who appreciates this thoughtfulness, Reza is relying on TEFAF, which, unlike a jewelry trade show, only allows a select few jewelers to exhibit. This year, German brand Hemmerle, New York’s antique dealer FD Gallery, and, for the first time, James Taffin de Givenchy, were the other jewelers to participate.

Reza said he began exhibiting at TEFAF Maastricht four years ago. He’s shown at the New York editions since their first iteration.

20180508 Reza insert2The Corne D’Abondance Earrings feature two white cultured pearls weighing 23.95 carats, 44 emerald beads weighing 21.18 carats, 108 round cultured pearls weighing 42.20 carats and 318 spessartite garnets, all set in 18-karat yellow gold.

“The curation, the quality … it’s just at the right level,” he said. “It’s the only (fair) we comfortable with. We’re still looking for others.”

New pieces unveiled at the fair, happening now at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan, include a bypass “swing” ring featuring a matching pair of marquise diamonds—one yellow and one white—that total six carats, set in 18-karat yellow and 18-karat white gold accented with white and orange diamonds on every one of its curving planes.

“This piece is very special because my father always told me to buy pairs,” Reza said. “He was talking about furniture or anything because two of something really nice is always more valuable than one. It’s very difficult to find two marquise or any two stones that match so well and of two different colors is incredible. We took two stones that on their own are already a big statement and we created a design that enhances them and creates the right motion.”

He said that he doesn’t gravitate toward any particular type of stone for his clients; rather, he is after the highest quality stone that crosses his path.

“The saturation needs to be intense, the color needs to matter,” he said as he displayed a new pair of deep green emerald and diamond earrings. “It’s very rare to find a pair of Colombian emeralds of 10 carats each for that color.”

Also on view were some of the house’s archival pieces, designed by Reza’s father, in addition to the popular Ribbon pieces, which feature cascading, dramatic curves of diamonds and gemstones.

The TEFAF New York Spring show concludes Tuesday.

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