October 2018

Like? Share!

World Famous Jewelers Series Part 5: Graff

Born to be a Jeweler: The Meteoric Rise of Laurence Graff

When 15-year-old Laurence Graff began his first apprenticeship in a jewelry manufacturing warehouse in London, he never dreamed he’d be honored with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth in 2013. In fact, after three months working in the warehouse and running errands, the owners let him go, telling him he didn’t make the grade. Clearly they were wrong, as today Laurence Graff owns a jewelry empire.

Graff was born in England in 1938 to a Romanian mother and a Russian father. After his first apprenticeship did not work out, Graff joined an older jeweler named Schindler, and opened a jewelry shop. Although Graff designed his own pieces, the economy wasn’t great, and he primarily worked remodeling and repairing pieces customer brought in. When the company went bankrupt, Laurence Graff started his own store. Graff was only 17 and he took on an older man as a partner. His partner was the craftsman, and Graff worked as a smooth-talking salesman. The popular pieces were modeled after the styles of the Victoriana period, made with semi-precious stones, and were first sold for just a few pounds. When he was given a loan to purchase diamonds, Graff’s prices rose, first to 100 pounds, then to 200, on to 500, and higher.

When Graff saw that the jewelry market in England was not great, he began to travel. He went to Australia and Singapore, before finding his market in the Middle East. His list of prestigious clients there includes Hassanal Bolkiah, the 29th Sultan of Brunei, and Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz.

From Early Days to Hey Days

In 1960, Graff returned to England, founded the Graff Diamonds company, and married Anne-Marie Graff. By 1962, he had two jewelry shops, including a location in the center of London’s jewelry trade, Hatton Garden.

1970 was the year of big hair, and Graff had a vision for an attention grabbing advertisement. He designed the “Hair & Jewel” advertisement to appeal to the younger generation who felt diamonds were for older matrons. When the company celebrated their 60th anniversary, they recreated this iconic picture. Some of the gems they used included a 10.47-carat Fancy Vivid Blue flawless briolette diamond and a 6.5-carat pink diamond. The model also wore the Graff Sweethearts, a pair of earrings weighing 50 carats each.

The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond – A Breakthrough in Beauty

In 2008, Graff made the news with his purchase of the Wittelsbach Diamond. He bought the 35.52-carat diamond for £16.4 million – at that time, the highest price ever paid for a diamond at auction. In 2010, Graff explained that he had diamond cutters re-polish the stone to remove chips and improve the overall clarity. The diamond’s size was reduced to 31 carats and renamed the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond. Today the diamond is worth over $80 million.

Wittelsbach Graff Diamond
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond on display at the National Museum of Natural History 

Source: Wikipedia

Graff still holds the title of chairman of Graff Diamonds and his son is the CEO. He has over 40 store locations worldwide, and his jewelry designs are some of the most sought-after pieces. Laurence Graff began his career at an impressively young age, and through determination and talent he created a diamond kingdom.

Subscribe to the Diamond Blog

Get the latest technology, grading and retail news straight from the source, straight to your inbox.



World Famous Jewelers Series Part 6: Chopard

Once Upon a Time in Switzerland… Our tale begins in the village of Sonvilier, Switzerland where we find Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the second son of Félicien and Henriette Chopard. Félicien was a farmer but he encouraged his sons to enter the watchmaking trade. Louis Chopard had a talent for the craft and quickly built a reputation […]

World Famous Jewelers Series Part 4: Boucheron

The Jeweler of Place Vendôme: How Frédéric Boucheron Got His Start Frédéric Boucheron always knew he wanted to be a jeweler. He was born in 1830 to a family of French clothiers, and at a young age he apprenticed himself under jeweler Jules Chaise. By the age of 14, he had completed his apprenticeship and […]

World Famous Jewelers Series Part 3: Faberge

The Man Who Created The Egg In 1885,   Tsar Alexander III commissioned Faberge to create an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna. With this simple gift, the Faberge Imperial Egg Collection was born. The first egg was called the Hen Egg. Inside a white enameled shell rested a solid gold […]

World Famous Jewelers Series Part 2: Tiffany & Co

The name Tiffany & Co. evokes thoughts of little blue boxes, glass lamp shades, and for those who know, the Super Bowl’s Vince Lombardi Trophy. The store is famous for its Tiffany setting engagement rings, chain bracelets with an engraved heart charm, and delicate pendant necklaces. Where did this legacy start? Who is the man […]

World Famous Jewelers: The Names Behind the Designs.

Part One: Harry Winston Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Harry Winston – all famous jewelers and household names. We see their designs on the red carpet, along with Boucheron, Fabergé, Piaget, and many more. These companies are more than just brand names; they were the passion and brainchild of people who loved high quality, stylish jewelry, […]

Rough diamond planning

Cloud Planning: Make Your Rough Planning Up to 10 Times Faster

Planning rough diamonds with Advisor™ software is a complex process that uses loads of computer processing power. Today, with Galaxy™ inclusion mapping technology, the number of rough polishing plans created by Advisor is essentially infinite. With various advanced options to choose from, such as triple planning, Best Value™, CAP and more, the rough planning software […]

Tension Viewer: Reducing the Risks of Rough Diamond Sawing

In addition to all types of inclusions and flaws, rough diamonds have internal tension or stress that occurs naturally as part of their structure. Developed over millions of years during the diamond’s unique formation process, the level and location of tension within a rough diamond varies from stone to stone. When cutting a rough diamond […]

New Software Release: Sarine Advisor™ 7.0 Rough Planning

Advisor™ rough planning software is used by manufacturers worldwide to effectively plan polished diamonds and maximize the achievable yield. Sarine recently released the latest version of the industry-leading software, Advisor 7.0. The release is packed with dozens of new, advanced features, the result of user feedback received from diamond planners working with Advisor all over […]

Advisor 6.0 New Feature: Scoop Planning

Advisor™ is Sarine’s flagship rough planning software product, and the most widely used program of its type. Since its initial development and launch in 1995, the Advisor program, together with the Galaxy™ inclusion mapping system, has become a staple software for diamond manufacturers worldwide. We’re launching the first product post of the Diamond Tech blog […]

Digital, Accurate, Engaging: A New Era in Diamond Reports

Last week, Sarine Technologies announced the opening of the world’s first automated diamond grading lab, the Sarine Technology Lab. In recent years, retail technologies and diamond technologies have begun to merge, and to create a new kind of diamond purchase experience. In honor of the upcoming opening of the Sarine Lab, which is a truly […]