13 June 1938
Stepney, London, UK
|Occupation||Businessman and jeweller|
|Net worth||US$ 4.3 billion|
|Children||4 (3 with Anne-Marie and one with Josephine Daniel)|
Laurence Graff (born 13 June 1938) is an English jeweller. He is best known as a supplier of unique jewellery and rare jewels to the wealthy. In 2008, he bought the Wittelsbach Diamond for £16.4 million ($24.3 million). He recut the diamond, removing 4 carats (800 mg) and receiving criticism for altering the historic jewel. In 2010 he set a record for the highest price ever paid for a jewel at auction, $46 million dollars/£29m, for a pink diamond. Graff is estimated to be worth US$4.3 billion as of 2013.
Graff was born in Stepney in 1938 into a Jewish family, the son of a Romanian mother, Rebecca Segal, and a Russian father, Harry Graff. His father made suits off the Commercial Road while his mother ran a tobacconist and newsagents. His brother Raymond was born in 1947.
Graff left school and became an apprentice when he was 15 cleaning floors and toilets. He was fired from that job after three months and went into partnership with Schindler, a jeweller, repairing rings and creating small pieces of jewellery in a small shop. That shop went out of business and so Graff began selling his jewellery designs independently to jewellers all over England. By 1962, he had two jewellery shops, including his first in Hatton Garden - the centre of London's jewellery trade since medieval times.
In 1960, he founded the Graff Diamonds company. In 1972 Janine Paule from Diversity Jewellery Ltd used to carry diamonds in small wax packets from Howard Taylor, a jobbing jeweller in Hatton Garden to Graff. This was so the right diamond could be selected for a particular gold ring. By 1974, he had begun specializing in selling to newly rich buyers from the Middle East. In particular, he supplied many jewels for Hassanal Bolkiah, the 29th Sultan of Brunei who became a lifelong client and friend. One day Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz walked in to the shop and bought everything including a 14 carat diamond.  Graff is currently expanding his empire in North Africa and the Gulf.
The re-cut of the Wittelsbach Diamond
In 2008, Graff purchased the Wittelsbach Diamond for £16.4 million, a considerable premium over the £9 million guide price. Almost two years later, Graff revealed he had had three diamond cutters repolish the stone to eliminate the chips and improve the clarity, reducing the diamond from 35.52 carats (7.10 g) to 31 carats (6.2 g). This action has been compared by critics to making the Mona Lisa prettier. However, according to gemologist Richard W. Wise, "At a cost of only 4.45 carats the recut and renamed Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond has been raised from a GIA grade of Fancy Deep Grayish Blue to a Fancy Deep Blue. Its clarity grade has been likewise elevated from VS2 to Internally Flawless (IF). This is a substantial upgrade." Further, the "Graff recut retained the original double stellate brilliant facet pattern thus retaining the overall look of the original stone."  The renamed Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond and the Hope Diamond will be on display together at the Smithsonian Institution beginning the end of January 2010. n).
In 1962, he married Anne-Marie Graff of French origin. They have three children: Francois (b. 1967), who runs the London branch of his father’s company, Stephane (b. 1968), an artist, and a daughter Kristelle (b. 1980). Graff also fathered a child with jeweller Josephine Daniel, 34 years his junior, in 2009.
- NYTimes.com - Recut and Renamed Wittels Diamond to Face Public and Critics. January 6, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
- BBC - Rare pink diamond sells for record-breaking £29m. November 16, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
- Laurence Graff profile - Forbes Forbes.com. Retrieved April 2011.
- "King of Bling: Laurence Graff". forbes.com. August 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- "The multifaceted Laurence Graff". Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- ES Magazine, Godfrey Barker. Billionaire interviews: Laurence Graff. December 17, 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- in_article_id=427792&in_page_id=10 Billionaire interviews: Laurence Graff Daily Mail UK. Vince Graff. August 24, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Don't talk to me about that £40m Graff gems raid. I missed out on my own 24-carat family fortune. Daily Mail UK. Vince Graff. August 24, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- Laurence Graff, chairman, Graff Diamonds, The New York Times, February 8, 2010
- The Times- Bavaria considers bid to bring mysterious Wittelsbach diamond home. November 7, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2010
- A diamond geezer made good. Financial Times. Emma Jacobs. January 25, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- "The Wittelsbach; All tarted up and ready to sell". Rwwise.com.
- GemWise: The Wittelsbach Diamond, All Tarted Up and Ready To Sell. Retrieved January 27, 2010
- Forbes: "King of Bling" by Susan Adams August 13, 2007
- The Daily Mail: "£2bn diamond dealer, 71, fathers lovechild by 37-year-old former PA (...but, generously, his wife is standing by him)" By Caroline Graham and Katie Nicholl October 18, 2009