Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff OBE (born 13 June 1938) is an English jeweller and billionaire businessman, best known as the founder of Graff Diamonds, supplier of jewellery and jewels.

Laurence Graff
Born (1938-06-13) 13 June 1938 (age 83)
Stepney, London, UK
OccupationBusinessman and jeweller
Years active1953–present
Spouse(s)Anne-Marie Graff (divorced)
Children5

Early lifeEdit

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.[1][2][3] His brother Raymond was born in 1947.

CareerEdit

Graff left school and became an apprentice when he was 15. He soon 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.[citation needed]

In 1960, he founded the Graff Diamonds company. In 1966 he commissioned the English jewellery-designer Robert Thomas to design a diamond jewel to enter into the De Beers Diamond International Awards competition. The ribbon bracelet created won the competition. By 1974, he had begun specialising 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 II bin Abdulaziz Al Saud walked into the shop and bought everything including a 14 carat diamond.[4] Graff has expanded his company, with over 35 shops in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Graff was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to the jewellery industry.[5]

According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2020, Graff and his son Francois had a combined personal net worth of £3.785 billion.[6]

Re-cut of the Wittelsbach DiamondEdit

 
The Wittelsbach diamond before being recut

In 2008, Graff purchased the Wittelsbach Diamond for £16.4 million, a considerable premium over the £9 million guide price.[7] 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 (7.104 g) to 31 carats (6.2 g). This action has been compared by critics to making the Mona Lisa prettier.[8] 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."[9]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1962, Graff married Anne-Marie, who is French.[1] They later divorced.[10] Together they had three children; two sons and a daughter. His son, Francois Xavier Graff is the chief executive of the family business.[11]

Graff has five children, and lives in Gstaad, Switzerland.[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Adams, Susan (13 August 2007). "King of Bling: Laurence Graff". forbes.com. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  2. ^ "The multifaceted Laurence Graff". Archived from the original on 8 November 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
  3. ^ Un bijutier de origine română şi-a construit un imperiu al pietrelor preţioase. În 2015 el a uimit lumea cu bijuteriile sale scumpe, 31 December 2015, Alina-Elena Vasiliu, Ziarul financiar, Retrieved at 30 December 2016
  4. ^ "Laurence Graff, chairman, Graff", The New York Times, 8 February 2010
  5. ^ "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. p. 11.
  6. ^ Times, The Sunday. "Rich List 2020: profiles 21-50, featuring Salma Hayek and Sir Richard Branson". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Bavaria considers bid to bring mysterious Wittelsbach diamond home". The Times, 7 November 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2010
  8. ^ Emma Jacobs. (25 January 2010). "A diamond geezer made good". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  9. ^ "The Wittelsbach; All tarted up and ready to sell". Rwwise.com.
  10. ^ a b "Forbes profile: Laurence Graff & family". Forbes. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  11. ^ Mar 18; 2018 (18 March 2018). "Laurence Graff". Alain Elkann Interviews. Retrieved 12 May 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit