Graff, Exception as a rule

Graff's Masterful Creations Are More Than Just Sparkles

The London diamond merchant unveiled close to thirty new models at Baselworld this year. Exceptional, and often unique, timekeepers as much as jewelry pieces.


By Frédéric Brun

Some exhibitors like to make noise, others prefer to dazzle by their creations. The refined Graff lounge at Baselworld is a peaceful oasis. The Art Deco decorum embarks you on a luxury cruise boat or in the plush café of a London palace. All smiles, voluptuousness, and sparkles. If Ali Baba had owned a store, he could have associated with the Graff family as each display abounds with jewels and treasures.

Family business

The discreet presence of CEO Laurence Graff, explains, “It [Graff] is a family business. My son is our executive director, my brother and nephew are very much involved as well.” Both elegantly draped in bespoke suits, Laurence Graff and his son François answer questions with grace and precision. Many of those asking are coming from Asia.

The ever-growing demand for superlative luxury is met with some of the purest, most beautiful and biggest diamonds in the world. Conscious of her attraction power, the jewelry house turns directly to the Middle Empire with two specific Gyrograff this year. Among the nine men's novelties, two are adorned with dials engraved in gold and miniature hand-paintings representing the Great Wall Of China on the first piece and the Temple of Heaven near Beijing for the second.

Precision and poetry

The finesse and precision of the execution is fascinating. Particularly the irregular paving of the path on the Great Wall with different sizes and shapes of baguette diamonds. A feat of accuracy enhanced by the pairing with colored stones providing an unparalleled luminosity rarely seen on such stone-set pieces. Poetry and imagination are encouraged as underling small details like the diamond window of the temple which leaves an inner light to the imagination.

Speaking of inner beauty, watch lovers will be thrilled to discover once more the famous gyro-tourbillon movement, spinning the tourbillon on multiple axis. At Graff, customers can ask for the moon! The great house takes the initiative to chisel by hand the very heart of the dials of the celestial star with awe-inspiring precision. It is also the case for both new Gyrograff Galaxy timepieces.

Shooting for the stars

The quest for perfection is a permanent requirement for the Graff family. “If you do not consider quality as vital, you cannot create a luxury brand. Only when you have the very best ingredients can you create something truly exceptional” asserts Laurence Graff. He insists on the stone quality as the central challenge in today’s haute jewelry.

Indeed, world demand increases, while supply for exceptional stones dwindles and synthetic diamonds try to push their replacements. “We cut from raw diamonds only. Since the turn of the century, 60% of the world’s largest diamonds have been bought and polished by Graff. We are the greatest buyer of exceptional stones. At the moment, for example, we are working on the largest raw diamond in existence: The 1’109 carat Lesedi La Rona. Putting them to market is a risky business. We have to get to know them first. Work them, transform them into jewelry, then sell them. In the whole process, I have described, most people only know how to realize one task. At Graff, we can do all of them. This is why we are leading the industry”, claims without complex the expert jeweler. The five unique timepieces dedicated to the preservation of endangered species are proof enough.

Unique pieces and métiers d’art

These spectacular timekeepers, named GyroGraff Endangered Species, represent a tiger, a gorilla, an elephant, a panda, and a rhinoceros. Incredible homage to incredible craftsmanship, as each dial is adorned with breathtaking diamond marquetry created in 3D. Yet another feat! They will surely be displayed in the soon-opening new Graff flagship boutique, the largest in the world, in Paris, at the corner of Castiglione and Saint-Honoré streets, near Place Vendôme.

The other new feminine timepieces presented at Baselworld will also be available: Two unique pieces in fancy yellow vivid diamonds, one oval and one round, as well as secret watches with diamonds and emeralds, a timepiece inspired by the American artist Cy Twombly’s work, or a watch derived from the jewelry collection “Kiss”. Exchanging with watchmaking director, Nicolas Sestito, reveals how complex the dialog between the jewelry workshops in Mayfair and the watchmakers based in Geneva is.

They often have to work on very short notice to find ways to integrate the watchmaking parts into the jewelry creations. “If a stone is not satisfactory, François Graff can decide to have the entire piece dismantled and set again in order to be perfect”, he confesses with the smile of a person who knows the amount of work needed to accomplish such masterpieces. Aiming for perfection undoubtedly has a price.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)

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