The whole World is in financial depression, except for Laurence Graff. The British billionaire’s company, Graff Diamonds, just bought the Wittelsbach Diamond for $24.3 million. The grayish-blue 35.56 carat stone has an impressive historical provenance. It was given to Infanta Margarita Teresa by her father King Philip IV of Spain as part of her dowry to the Emperor Leopold I of Austria back in 1667. You know, just another day in the life of Laurence Graff who is worth an estimated $2.5 billion. Just to make you drool a little, Graff’s estate comprises of homes in Geneva, London, New York and Cap Ferrat in the south of France; a new 150-foot Feadship yacht; a Global Express XRS plane; a winery and vineyard in Stellenbosch, the Napa Valley of South Africa; and a modern and contemporary art collection worth $250 million.
He has been labeled the new Harry Winston, and Laurence Graff’s recent purchase of the Wittlesback Diamond set a record high at Christie’s London jewelry auction. Graff has swept the upper tier of jewelry retailing. The 69-year-old ascended from cleaning toilets in a Hatton Garden workshop to the helm of a worldwide brand with 15 stores in the globe’s wealthiest spots, from Monte Carlo to Dubai to Moscow. The fairy-tale story begins with vertical integration. In translation, Mr. Graff takes stones from the dirt all the way to the most spectacular Graff Diamond display cases.Â His stones are a cut above the rest, many times preferred over even Cartier, Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany.Â The thing is, Laurence Graff manages to do it as a private entity. The others sold out to conglomerates long ago but Graff feels as though he is just starting out. He won’t sell out, in 1973 he sold a third of his company but hated having shareholders and a board. He had bought all his shares back by 1978.
For now Laurence Graff is the only man still standing behind his brand, the Jacques Arpels, Harry Winstons and Gerard Boucherons have passed. Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, the Sultan and Queen of Brunei, Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor, Donald Trump,Â David Beckham and wife, Victoria, are all Graff lovers. If you want something done right, do it yourself. Laurence Graff does it right.