“I have always been fascinated by diamonds; I truly believe that working with diamonds is what I was born to do. It was an inherent feeling that has turned into a lifelong passion.”
Lawrence Graff was born in 1938 in London to a Romanian mother and a Russian father who was a suit maker in the East End. He left school at 15 and started his career in the jewellery trade working as an apprentice for a Mr Schindler in Hatton Garden whilst simultaneously studying goldsmithing at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Three years later he set up on his own and worked in partnership with a more experienced jeweller carrying out repairs on Victorian jewellery. One day he persuaded a diamond dealer he knew to advance him 33 small diamonds which he mounted in a large flashy cluster style ring. He sold it almost immediately and was asked for another.
From this first diamond ring Graff has gone on to build a business and a brand recognised the world over. Graff Diamonds was founded in Hatton Garden in 1960 with the first two retail shops opening in London two years later. Graff built his reputation on strong designs set with fine quality diamonds and coloured gems and today is recognised as one of the foremost luxury jewellers in the world. Whether the gems are acquired rough or already faceted, they are almost always re-cut by the Graff master diamond and gem cutters in order to reveal their optimum beauty. A few of the magnificent and historic diamonds that have received the Graff magic touch include The Windsor Yellows, the Lesotho Promise, the Graff Pink and the Wittelsbach. As Graff himself explains, “We’ve taken the most classic, established cuts and refined them with perfect proportions to get the utmost from each stone. We prefer to cut a little more, losing weight if necessary, to attain that perfection.”
In 1998 the company acquired a stake in the South African Diamond Corporation to ensure their own steady and reliable supply of diamonds for their jewellery. Since then they have become further involved in the diamond supply chain and now have full traceability from mining, through cutting and polishing to retail. “We are fortunate to have discovered, cut, polished and set many of the finest diamonds ever certified, each one a testament to the passion and craftsmanship of our artisans.” This dedication to the pursuit of perfection was recognised in 2013 when Laurence Graff was awarded an OBE for services to the jewellery industry. Today the business has more than 55 stores worldwide including Monaco, Tokyo, Singapore, Macau and Dubai. At 80 years old Lawrence Graff still runs the business with his brother, son and nephew – all working together to create what the company promises to be “The most fabulous jewels in the world.”