Alexander Kreis and his father Stefan travel far and wide. Their journeys take them to distant corners of the globe and some of the most remote places on earth. Each visit is undertaken with the same purpose – to find the rough stones that Sonja Kreis Unique Gems & Jewellery will turn into beautiful pieces of jewellery, art and investment gems.
What the pair are constantly on the lookout for are some of the world’s most colourful gems – rubies, sapphires, emeralds, moonstones, aquamarines, tanzanites and royal blue Ceylon, to name but a few. Their travels can often prove dangerous: Stefan once ended up in the middle of a military coup in Africa. Another time, deep in the Brazilian jungle, the car they were in fell off the logs it was driving over. However, visiting the source of these stones is a crucial part of their business, and Alexander and Stefan remain unperturbed.
“It enables us to source the very highest quality rough gems,” says Alexander. The upshot of this dedicated approach is that every stone has its own individual tale to tell, which only serves to enhance its beauty. Once they have found what they seek, the father and son return to the headquarters of Sonja Kreis Unique Gems & Jewellery in Idar-Oberstein, south-west Germany.
The family company represents a combined 500 years of family tradition. Stefan himself has 37 years of experience in the business, and Alexander, part of the next generation, is set to continue the company’s success.
“HIS CUTTING IS A SPECTACULAR BLEND OF FREE-FORM CURVES AND DRAMATIC GEOMETRICAL CUTS”
Gemology Institute of America
Idar-Oberstein has long been known as a gemstone town. Gems were first discovered there in the 16th century, and a gem-cutting tradition soon sprang up alongside the find.
Alexander is the Kreis family’s gem-cutting expert, and his apprenticeship began at a young age. His grandfather, a gem-cutter, let the boy help cut and polish the stones, and Alexander spent hours watching his grandfather at work. Now an experienced craftsman in his own right, Alexander has forged his own unique style. As the Gemology Institute of America states: “His cutting is a spectacular blend of free-form curves and dramatic geometrical cuts.”
THE ART OF CUTTING
“The cutting depends on the stone itself,” says Alexander. “It may already be a piece of art, or my cutting may turn it into one. If it’s an investment stone or for jewellery, each material is best shown in harmony with its natural beauty.” The family company takes its name from Alexander’s mother, Sonja, who uses the cut stones to create beautiful pieces of jewellery.
“They have to be one of a kind”
“I look to the stones and they really speak to me,” says Sonja. “I take the stone in my hand, and I get a feeling for it. Then I start to make my sketches.” Each and every piece is handcrafted in-house, adhering to the highest standards of craftsmanship. Many have become collectors’ items for clients not just in Germany but as far away as Singapore, Hong Kong and the USA.
The company’s investment gems are unique stones with special characteristics. “They have to be one of a kind,” says Alexander. “There are some stones you find at only one place on the planet, such as tanzanite. Then there is the quality, which is very important, and the size and colour range of the gemstone.”
Sourcing such gems is very much a question of trust and experience. It’s also an ongoing process, and as Alexander finishes cutting one stone, his mind is often set on his next far-flung destination and his next high-quality find.