If you’re after an internally flawless diamond, a perfect sapphire from Sri Lanka or a forest-green emerald from Colombia, then Laurence Graff is your man (www.graffdiamonds.com).
Born and bred in the East End of London, he has turned a lifelong passion for gemstones into an extraordinary worldwide business. By the time he was 24, he had two jewellery shops in the capital; by the age of 30, he had the largest jewellery-manufacturing business in the UK and some of the world’s most discerning people as customers.
These days, he has more than 30 shops around the world, and is known as the King of Stones. Through his hands have passed some of the world’s most fabulous and important gemstones, including the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond and the Graff Pink diamond, once owned by New York’s Harry Winston, but which Mr Graff bought for $46 million 18 months ago-the highest price ever paid for a single stone.
Some of the jewels he has dealt in are centuries old and steeped in myth and history. Others have been newly discovered in some of the world’s most interesting mines. They’re then brought to life by the highly skilled craftsmen who make all the Graff jewellery by hand in the company’s London workshops.
Renowned for settings that are designed to reveal the inherent beauty of each stone, Mr Graff can, nonetheless, also create wonderful parures, necklaces and earrings. Recently, he’s launched a remarkable collection of haute joaillerie pieces, featuring elaborate swirls and scrolls designed to show off the emeralds, sapphires, white and coloured diamonds that he has collected over the years.
Every Graff diamond is laser-inscribed on the girdle with the Graff logo and a GIA (Gemo-logical Institute of America) identification number, an inscription so small that it’s only visible under 10-power magnification, but crucial for proper authen-tication and provenance. For what counts for Mr Graff most of all is the quality and rarity of the stones. Designs can come and go, but the beauty
of a stone is forever.
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Crystal Champagne flute, £85, Asprey (020-7493 6767; www.asprey.com); Opera glasses, £40, The Glyndebourne Shop (01273 815033; http://glyndebourne.com); Bag, £1,895, Bally (020-7491 7062; www.bally.com); Rouge Coco lipstick, £24, Chanel (020-7493 3836; www.chanel.com); South Sea pearl and gold ring with diamonds, £7,800, Gold ring with blue-green tourmaline and diamonds, £12,600, both Elizabeth Gage (020-7823 0100; www.elizabeth-gage.com); Yellow and white diamond necklace, Diamond snowflake necklace, price on application, both Graff (020-7584 8571; www.graffdiamonds.com); Eau du Soir scent, £72.50 for 30ml, Sisley (020-7591 6380; www.sisley-cosmetics.com); Limelight Dancing Light watch, £25,100, Piaget (020-3364 0800; www.piaget.co.uk); Art Nouveau lorgnettes, £5,250, Bentley & Skinner (020-7629 0651; www.bentley-skinner.co.uk); Diamond earrings, price on application, Graff (as above); Edwardian two-person hamper, food and Champagne, £530, Fortnum & Mason (0845 300 1707; www.fortnumandmason.com)
Photographed by John Lawrence Jones. Styled by Hetty Chidwick