Heart of Stone: A Look into Graff

A fearless love of diamonds, artistry and innovation propels every jewellery design success at Graff.

By Alexandra Breen

Inside a light and airy space located in London’s hot-to-trot Mayfair neighbourhood, Graff’s Design Director Anne-Eva Geffroy is surrounded by a symphony of plants bathing in natural light. North-facing windows attract the most flattering rays of sun, perfect for working with arguably the world’s best diamonds. Assisted by a team of artisans from Italy, France and the U.K, Geffroy says coming up with ideas for the next Graff collection or unique piece is all about taking inspiration from her surroundings.

“It comes in many forms, from a song that sparks an idea—like Miles Davis’ ‘Autumn Leaves’ for the new Foliage collection—to the world of modern art.” A Cy Twombly show, for example, became the starting point for their collection that echoes the American painter and sculptor’s signature graffiti-like expressions. While nature is another recurring theme in many of Graff’s jewellery design, it is ultimately the stones which fuel the creativity behind the jeweller’s classical aesthetic. “We are fortunate to work with some of the most beautiful diamonds and gems in the world, and designs are often inspired by their magnificent natural beauty.”

Founder Laurence Graff

The company’s founder, Laurence Graff, once said: “If I had one word to describe my company, I would say diamond.” His matter-of-fact statement establishes the house’s reputation for exquisite jewellery design, and underscores its role as a recognized leader in discovering some of the most important and headlining gemstones in the world. Notably, the company acquired the 1,109- carat Lesedi La Rona, which happens to be the largest rough diamond discovered since 1905.

Diamond earrings that weigh in at 32.98 carats

A handmade framework before the diamonds are set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Graff story began in 1960, when Laurence Graff founded his famed atelier. Today, it remains a family-run business, with Graff being involved in all aspects of production from sourcing the rarest diamonds to designing pieces of striking proportions. Take the stunning diamond chandelier drop earrings pictured here for example. Once Graff communicated his vision, an in-house artist created a detailed two-dimensional representation—a dreamy, hand-painted watercolour gouache that met the jeweller’s expectations of beauty and fluidity. Graff’s fine-tuned aesthetic and eye for the extraordinary has won him accolades including a royal Order of the British Empire and he has served on the councils of museums such as the Tate Modern in London and the Guggenheim in New York.

Affectionately and appropriately nicknamed the King of Diamonds, Graff now owns close to 60 boutiques worldwide. The company continues to evolve with every gemstone it handles, even as it merges modern technology with goldsmithing tools that have remained the same for centuries, including traditional hammers, saws and metal files.

“We are ahead of the game when it comes to investing in technology,” says Director of Production, Raymond Graff, whose pedigree lends him valuable insight in the day-to-day buzz of the diamond industry. “But we also invest in people. Machines can provide faster, more efficient and precise ways of working, but they will never be able to replace the artistry and talents of a trained craftsman,” he says. “Our work here is all about transforming creative dreams into reality.”

Hand-painted gouache

 

 

According to Sam Sherry, Head of Technology, translating the designer’s vision into a piece of jewellery can be a complex process, however the result is always profound. Graff’s diamond-encrusted gecko brooch with its emerald eyes posed a design and engineering challenge due to its minute size. “Anatomically correct, this brooch is comprised of hundreds of tiny parts and its head and tail are articulated to move,” Sherry explains.

 

 

 

 

 

A resin model of Graff’s secret watch

Secret watch with diamond that opens to reveal the dial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Graff’s high jewellery collection, the watches are another sublime example of the jeweller’s savoir faire. The striking diamond secret watch features a delicate octagonal dial that is brilliantly tucked beneath a dazzling display of diamonds. It’s this constant desire to inspire awe that’s part and parcel of creating the next Graff masterpiece.

Photos: Courtesy of Graff