The story of high jewellery in Europe is often said to have originated more than 100 years ago, when family-run ateliers began opening on Paris’s Place Vendôme. But Laurence Graff, the London-based founder and chairman of Graff, has always revelled in a counternarrative. Now 85, he still celebrates his start as a scrappy East End teen in the mid-1950s, repairing Victorian baubles while planning to become an international diamond entrepreneur — having the stones mined, and then polishing, designing and selling the finished pieces. As his boutiques proliferated, he bought up many of the world’s best-known rough diamonds, including the honey-coloured 299-carat Golden Empress and the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona — at the time, the largest discovered in over a century — and cut them into exquisite gems. Such showstoppers serve as enduring inspiration for the house’s audacious style, epitomised by these recent earrings: each tower of giant Colombian emeralds — 26 carats in all — capped by a flamboyant trio of pear-shaped diamonds cut to catch even the softest evening light.
Graff emerald-and-diamond earrings. Photograph by Esther Choi.