The Royal Jewellers S01 ep1 : Jewellery [London]

Interview with Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff
KM - When your first DOT COM customer knocked on the door, what was it like?

LG - Well I thought he was going to spend a billion but he spent twenty-five
thousand pounds. I thought he was going to buy a hundred carat
diamond but he bought a three carat diamond.

KM - Really?

LG - Because those DOT COM people became so rich, so fast that they didn’t have
a chance to in fact spend any money. Very often they never actually had it. It
was all tied up in the company etcetera, it was a whole new thing. And they
were quite ordinary people. Quite ordinary people don’t wear royal jewels.


Laurence Graff

LG - GRAFF is a diamond and jewellery company. We're based here in
London with a flagship building in Bond street. But behind this building there’s a
whole world of activity. It starts off in Johannesburg, where we’re the leading
producers of polished diamonds. We employ well over two hundred people,
that cut diamonds from the sites we have in Johannesburg. A site means a
purchasing power from DEBEERS on a regular basis ten times a year. We’re
allocated a certain amount of roughs. We only sell large diamonds, and a large
diamond is anything over a carat. The better quality diamonds, all end up with
us here. Which means they get melted into our jewellery.

LG - We make jewellery every day. We create non-stop. And unlike chain
stores that might make a little single stone ring a thousand times, practically
everything we do is another design. All unique pieces.

Graff Diamonds

LG - I can honestly say that at every level of this industry I enjoyed what I
was doing. When I was at the bench and I was working and my fingers were
becoming sore, I actually enjoyed it, I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning
and make those rings or whatever I was doing. Create a jewellery or melt a
diamond. I soon went onto the hand linked diamonds and that was it. Once I
touched a diamond it was magical I knew that I was meant for this industry.

LG - The first thing I could ever remember when I picked up a diamond was
it was cold. And it was bright and it was alive and it spoke to me. I looked at it
and I thought I had an inherent understanding with this commodity.

KM - What happened with this boxer who happened to come into London that
time around?

LG - Well he was a very nice fellow. And I took a view, well I let him walk out
of the shop with a million dollars worth of merchandise. He said he would pay.
Well I don’t think a man with such a high profile wouldn’t pay. And on his
second visit to London he walked into this showroom, into this desk where
we’re sitting and he put his arms around me and kissed me and I said “Mike,
you owe me money.” “What? I owe you money?” He never paid the son of a
gun, white trash etcetera etcetera etcetera. It was scary. But never the less
within a few days it was paid. It was good publicity.

Graff Diamonds

LG - When you have a name, you must never be afraid of the competition.
Because in fact the competition is helping your name too. You’re not a brand.
You’re just out if it. And I don’t think there’s any room really, in the big world, in
the big picture for people in – I should say the retail business because it is the
retail business without a name. And it does take time to create a name. Or a
lot of money.

LG - Art is an expression. The artist expresses himself in the medium that he
works in whether it’s paint or sculpture or jewellery if you like. Or a great
architect is an artist. And it’s expressing your personality, and expressing your
feelings but as you’ve seen with all the fashion houses one seems to follow the
other. That’s because ‘fashions’ a word that’s crept into the art. And I sincerely
believe in all the areas where art is a force, fashion is an element. And one has
to follow the fashion; otherwise you are way out, avant-garde, out of it and
maybe not successful. So you have to tie art to commercialism as well, you
have to turn art into a profit otherwise you can’t exist. The greatest sale I ever
made was when I had to meet somebody and it ended up we were talking to
each other in mid air because he was a half hour delayed. And this particular
gentlemen landed I watched him land. Our aircraft was already on the ground,
it was in no mans land, we hadn’t yet gone through customs etcetera. I was
able to get off my aircraft, walk over to his aircraft, his ladder came up – the
security he was a very important figure and we made the deal on his aircraft.
On the runway for multi millions of dollars. The commodity was left on his
plane, which he put into the safe, which he had on his plane, he took off and
went back to his country.

Graff Diamonds

LG - You do make more and more important pieces in the Brunei explosion
for sure. When I compare the quality that we have sold there compared to the
quality of the crown jewels for instance the English crown jewels or the Iranian
crown jewels or whatever have you. There is no where, no place on earth
where are better creations and better quality stones. Every stone’s certified,
usually de-flawless or at least D-IF or E

LG - Recently we cut the largest D colour, flawless brilliant diamond in the

Graff Diamonds

KM - How many carats was that?

LG - Well it finished off at just ninety-one carats. Ninety carats ninety-
seven. And there were satellite stones from the rough. But we acquired the
rough from the mines. We designed the stones that we wanted to get out of the
rough, or were able to get out of the rough, we cut the stone, we had a
ceremony in Monte Carlo and we sold the stone within twenty-four hours. It
was one of the worlds most valuable items.