Russian-born jeweller Alexandre Reza, whose elite clientele included the lover of the late Princess Diana, has died in Geneva aged 93, his Paris-based company announced Tuesday.
Reza died Friday after a long illness, having transferred his business to his son Olivier in 2008.
On the fateful night in 1997 when Diana was killed in a road accident in Paris, the British princess and former wife of Prince Charles was wearing a Reza solitaire diamond ring which she had received just hours earlier from her boyfriend Dodi al-Fayed, who also died in the crash.
Reza, himself the son of a jeweller, was born in Soviet Moscow in 1922 to a family of Persian origin, which moved to Paris three years after his birth.
After World War II, he started his career as a diamond expert, becoming a collector as well as an acclaimed craftsman.
He provided precious stones to the likes of Cartier, Harry Winston, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari.
The auction house Sotheby’s in 2013 described Reza as “the greatest gem merchant in a generation.”
He dazzled the world “with the artistry, audacity and abundance of his timelessly contemporary jewels, set with the magnificent gemstones he had collected over a lifetime,” Sotheby’s said, in a tribute to Reza during a New York retrospective of his work.