IN THE MOMENT
no future in the industry. “I didn’t give up but moved on with more determination to succeed,” says Graff. Within a few years he had a couple of jewellery stores of his own, and then went on the road with a bag of gems, building contacts with moneyed clients and royalty around the world.
Graff Diamonds has grown to be one of the most respected and innovative retailers, with 40 stores globally. “It’s been said that more rare and historical diamonds have passed through the house of Graff than any other jeweller,” says Graff, citing the example of the Letšeng Star, which the company acquired for US$16.5 million. Found in 2011, the 550-carat stone, which came from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, took 13 months to cut and polish using a special computer system. The stone was split into several pieces and used in a special nature-inspired collection, one item of which is a butterfly brooch with a 30-carat pear-shaped diamond in its wing. “Through this we set an unsurpassed standard of excellence and innovation,” Graff says.
Graff ’s son Francois is the company’s CEO, brother Raymond manages the workshop and nephew Elliott is responsible for stock and production. “We work together to always be the very best, operating at the very pinnacle of the jewellery industry,” says Graff, who sees a bright future for diamonds. He believes stones will only increase in value because of the “extremely high” demand for large, highquality and rare-coloured diamonds, and the fact that new discoveries are scarce.
“There has to be mystique in a jewel, something enthralling and beautiful about it to capture the imagination,” says Graff. “I have the same passion and desire for diamonds as I did when I first started in the industry. I believe I am the luckiest man in the world, because I see diamonds every day.”
ABOVE: A MODEL SHOWS OFF A DIAMOND SET FROM GRAFF’S 2014 BRIDAL COLLECTION. RIGHT: SETTING DIAMONDS IS A PAINSTAKING PROCESS. OPPOSITE PAGE: A TAPERING NECKLACE OF FINE FANCY YELLOW DIAMONDS BY CHOW TAI FOOK