“King of Bling” GRAFF Expands into China

5月 06, 2024

The world’s largest square emerald cut diamond, “The Graff Lesedi La Rona,” weighing 302.37 carats, is not only impressively heavy but also the largest diamond with the highest color and clarity ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America.

It was cut from the 1109-carat “Lesedi La Rona” diamond, which dates back 3 billion years, around the time of Earth’s formation. Analyzing, cutting, and polishing such a massive rough diamond was a challenging task that took gemologists 18 months to complete.

This legendary diamond comes from GRAFF.

In fact, most of the largest 20 diamonds of this century have been cut and polished by Graff.

The Graff brand was founded by Laurence Graff OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1960 from scratch and remains a family business to this day.

It is believed within the industry that Mr. Graff has handled more precious diamonds than any other jeweler in contemporary times or perhaps at any time. From a jewelry apprentice to establishing a globally renowned fine jewelry brand, in 2007 he was hailed by Forbes as the “King of Bling,” a title he achieved in just over 40 years.

Mr. Graff, now 85, still serves as the chairman of the brand, with his son Francois Graff having taken over as CEO, managing the family business.

Recently, Graff’s “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition made Beijing the first stop of its Asian tour, followed closely by the Shanghai exhibition, bringing many large-carat jewelry pieces, three of which were just launched in a global advertising campaign.

This year, Graff has opened several new stores in China. This globally renowned fine jewelry brand is increasingly making its presence felt in China.

“Chasing Light”: An Odyssey with Legendary Diamonds

A lifelong journey in the diamond industry has filled Mr. Graff with immense pride.

Mr. Graff has received the Queen’s Awards to Industry five times for his achievements in the jewelry industry and has been awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire. During his award ceremony, he reflected on his beginnings.

Mr. Graff was born in London and became a jewelry apprentice in Hatton Garden at the age of 15, London’s renowned jewelry quarter and the center of the UK diamond trade. In his spare time, he studied jewelry craftsmanship at the Central School of Art and Design and tried to sell his own jewelry designs to shops across the UK.

At that time, Hatton Garden was still dominated by wholesale and workshops, and the industry culture was conservative. He first made some innovative designs using diamonds as the main focus, combining 33 small diamonds to create the sparkling effect of a “large diamond,” which quickly gained customer favor. After making full-diamond styles, he began introducing other gemstones such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires.

Mr. Graff founded the Graff brand in 1960, and two years later opened the brand’s first store in London.

He then traveled the world to expand his business, searching for larger and rarer diamonds and gemstones. Along the way, he befriended many royal and celebrity clients, who became important patrons of Graff.

Laurence Graff

In 1974, Mr. Graff purchased “The Star of Bombay” (below left) from a European businessman representing an Indian noble family. This yellow diamond weighed 47.39 carats and had been set in the noble’s ceremonial attire. This was the beginning of Graff’s relationship with legendary diamonds.

He later acquired legendary diamonds like “The Wittelsbach-Graff” blue diamond (below right), which had been passed down among the Spanish, Austrian, and Bavarian royal families. After purchasing this diamond, Mr. Graff boldly decided to re-polish it, fixing surface imperfections and enhancing the color, carving it into one of the largest flawless natural fancy deep blue diamonds of its time, weighing 31.06 carats.

In the late 1990s, Graff integrated the source of diamond mining, further participating in every step of jewelry production, from mining to cutting, polishing, and designing, becoming one of the few high-end jewelry brands globally to adopt a vertically integrated business model.

Exploring Diamonds: A Lifelong Passion

Mr. Graff attributes the success of his brand to his love for what he creates.

He says, “I have always been fascinated by diamonds. When gazing at these sparkling gems, I meticulously study their clarity and cutting techniques. This innate curiosity has become a lifelong interest for me.”

He has handled many famous diamonds, and the process of cutting and polishing these gems is akin to an “adventure.”

The 1109-carat “Lesedi La Rona” is the largest gem-quality rough diamond discovered in nearly a century and the second-largest gem-quality rough stone in history. Graff’s team of gemologists developed a large scanner and new imaging software specifically for this stone to deeply explore the rough and plan the cuts.

The Gemological Institute of America confirmed that “Lesedi La Rona” belongs to the rare category of “super-deep diamonds,” formed three times deeper than most diamonds. Graff donated its fragments to the Smithsonian Institution in the U.S. to advance diamond research.

Mr. Graff with the “Lesedi La Rona” rough

One of the world’s largest heart-shaped diamonds, “The Infinity Diamond” (157.80 carats), also originated from the same rough as “Lesedi La Rona.” When placed side by side, gemologists discovered that their contours matched perfectly.

The heart-shaped cut is one of the most complex and difficult to execute, and it took over a year for a seasoned artisan with more than 40 years of experience to complete the polishing. Inspired by its graceful lines, Graff designed “The Infinity Diamond” crown (below image).

These stories echo Mr. Graff’s famous philosophy, “Design for Stones.” Mr. Graff believes that each diamond is a masterpiece of the cosmos: “Every diamond has a unique story that must be carefully observed and respected… We have a responsibility to maximize its natural beauty.”

This love and reverence mirror humanity’s unending exploration of the vast cosmos.

Recently, Graff unveiled the “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition, also echoing the global launch of the new “GALAXIA” high jewelry commercial on April 8th. “GALAXIA” pays tribute to the vast cosmic sky, symbolizing the goddess guarding the galaxy. By continually discovering natural treasures, Graff hopes to replicate the brilliance of the universe with gemstones.

The curatorial and advertising themes of “GALAXIA” are inspired by Mr. Graff’s spirit of exploring cosmic creations, inspiring modern women to understand their hearts’ desires and embark on a journey to discover their inner brilliance.

The exhibition wall reads: “A galaxy in her eyes. A universe in her mind.”

“Green Lady” Returns

The “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition features four main sections, showcasing numerous high jewelry masterpieces.

The three most prominent pieces at the exhibition were also featured in Graff’s newly released “GALAXIA” high jewelry commercial.

A Graff pear-shaped yellow diamond and multi-cut white diamond necklace feature a complex knot design that perfectly fits the neckline (below). Hanging from it are 10.64-carat and 6.52-carat pear-shaped intense yellow diamond pendants, set with a total of 68.69 carats of diamonds.

An emerald and diamond necklace is set with three rare 4-carat lozenge-shaped Colombian emeralds, totaling 23.08 carats of emeralds and 37.47 carats of diamonds (below). Colombian emeralds are renowned for their vibrant colors.

Graff’s Tribal series multi-cut ruby and diamond necklace features radial design lines depicting the beauty of a rising sun (below). Six Mozambique rubies complement each other, centered by a 9.09-carat oval Mozambique no-heat ruby. 28.28 carats of diamonds are set on a handcrafted platinum and white gold base, minimizing the presence of metal structures to allow light to pass through the diamonds.

The “GALAXIA” commercial, portrayed by Dutch supermodel Rianne Van Rompaey, embodies the confident and powerful “Goddess of the Galaxy.” The visuals are highly cinematic, and to achieve a dreamlike, surreal effect, Graff used a new filming technique, realistically simulating aurora scenes on a 180-degree high-definition LED screen.

An immersive viewing area was created at the exhibition site, making guests feel as if they were in the galaxy, surrounded by green auroras.

The “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition and commercial both feature deep aurora green as the main visual theme, marking the return of Graff’s “Green Lady,” the representative advertising model image that first appeared in the early 2000s.

In the 1990s, Graff unexpectedly shot promotional ads themed around “hunter green,” achieving great success. Inspired by this project, Graff first used a green background in print ads to highlight jewelry’s brilliance against models dressed in green. The advertising theme at the time was called “Green Lady.”

The creative concept of “Green Lady” was personally led by Mr. Graff, who is particularly fond of this color. In the early 1960s, Graff’s store in Knightsbridge, London, used a green backdrop to promote jewelry, a color deeply ingrained in his subconscious since childhood.

Mr. Graff’s son and current CEO, Francois Graff, recalls being passionate about this creative idea but also concerned about whether “Green Lady” would be widely accepted. He said, “I was worried that ‘Green Lady’ might seem a bit strange or even alien due to the overly bright green filter. Fortunately, most of the feedback we received was positive, proving the great success of this advertising project.

A special exhibition corridor was created at the “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition to honor and revisit the classic image of “Green Lady.”

As the Son Takes Over, What Changes Have Occurred at Graff?

Graff remains one of the few fine jewelry brands still steered by the founding family.

Francois Graff became the CEO in 2004, while the founder, Mr. Laurence Graff, currently serves as the chairman. Mr. Graff’s brother, Raymond Graff, oversees the entire jewelry production process, and his nephew, Elliott Graff, is responsible for business logistics, marketing, and design.

Laurence Graff OBE and his son Francois Graff

Currently, the brand boasts over 60 jewelry stores worldwide and has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, New York, Japan, and Geneva.

Graff’s product range has expanded to include bridal jewelry, jewelry collections, luxury watches, and perfumes.

The brand has also refined its logo and introduced a unique monogram.

The “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition and its accompanying commercial reflect this independent jewelry brand’s blend of tradition and innovation, as well as its increasing emphasis on the Chinese market.

In China, Graff has established stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chengdu, and holds two high jewelry exhibitions annually, further demonstrating its strong confidence in the Chinese market.

Graff Jewelry Store in Hangzhou Tower

Graff has also collaborated with a variety of domestic influencers to expand its customer base. For example, last year’s wedding of celebrities Dou Xiao and He Chaolian, which featured Graff jewelry, garnered significant attention on social media.

Francois Graff stated, “We continuously seek ways to break boundaries, vigorously innovating and challenging traditions in every aspect of our business. This spirit has driven the brand from its inception to its current development and is the essence and value proposition of Graff.”


The high-end jewelry market in China shows great promise. As the number of high-net-worth individuals in China continues to grow, along with their taste and purchasing power, high-end jewelry holds strong appeal for both consumption and investment.

Whether it’s the recent “GALAXIA” high jewelry exhibition and commercial, or the brand’s frequent activities in China, Graff is enhancing its brand symbols through refined communication strategies, delivering a unified and clear narrative in the global market, and keeping pace with the rapidly changing market.

It is expected that as Graff amplifies its communication efforts in China, this esteemed high-end jewelry brand will accelerate its development in the country. The brand’s active engagement is also poised to inject new energy into the thriving Chinese high-end jewelry market.

 | Image Credit: Graff

丨Reporter:Jin Daixi

 | Editor: Zhu Ruoyu