EXCLUSIVE: What Makes Graff Diamond Jewellery So Special?
Head of Design Anne-Eva Geffroy gives an inspiring inside peek.By Sarah Royce-Greensill |
Anne-Eva Geffroy talks at breakneck speed. About her work, designs, inspirations and, most of all, diamonds, her excitement bubbling like the ‘boiling water’ she uses as a metaphor to describe life at Graff. She eagerly seizes diamonds with the enthusiasm of a new recruit, despite being Head of Design since 2010. Along with her team of six designers, she dreams up every Graff piece, from fine jewelry to one-of-a-kind showstoppers. In a decade, she has seen more extraordinary diamonds than most people will in a lifetime—yet she still gets shivers when she lays eyes on certain stones.
“I have had so many rushes of emotion; even after ten years of holding amazing, huge diamonds in my hands, the feeling has never left me,” she says. “Immediately I think, how will we make the best of it? Let’s go, let’s go!”
Geffroy’s quick-fire approach is mirrored throughout Graff’s Mayfair HQ, a stone’s throw from the Bond Street boutique. It’s a hive of activity. Boxes of loose stones rush from gemologists to design studio; sketches are hurried to the boardroom for sign-off; an approved layout of stones descends to the workshop in the basement. Designers and craftspeople are constantly conversing and collaborating.
Their shared goal? Perfection.
If you’re lucky you might spot a diamond the size of a quail’s egg, like something from the Crown Jewels, being extracted from a safe. And chances are, next time you see it will be in a shop vitrine. “There is no waiting room,” laughs Geffroy. “The rhythm is intense!”
Graff’s rapid pace stems from its vertically integrated structure. The company has its own diamond procurement and polishing division, providing an abundant supply for Geffroy and her team. “The stones belong to us from start to finish. As a designer, it’s a dream.” Every piece is crafted, set, polished, marketed and sold in house. Geffroy estimates the workshop produces on average 300 pieces a month—a tiny proportion of the ‘millions’ of ideas she generates.
“The stones are the star of the show.”Anne-Eva Geffroy
Her ideas almost always begin with the diamonds. “The stones are the star of the show. Each one has a personality that speaks to us. Some obviously need to be alone. Others look even more beautiful in a set. We find the best way to make them come alive.”Initial sketches are developed into gouaches, then CAD renderings that take into account technical architecture, movement and wearability. Every piece is signed off by a member of the Graff family, who still own and run the business. These relatives of Laurence Graff, who founded Graff Diamonds in 1960, continue the spirit of risk-taking and adventure that propelled him from East End dropout to the billionaire chairman of a global jewelry house.
“Mr. Graff travelled the world, he was always curious, he took risks. That spirit is echoed throughout the company,” says Geffroy. “On my first day Mr. Graff showed me a set of 20 D-Flawless pear-shape diamonds. Unbelievable. He asked me to create a necklace and I thought, oh my gosh, all of them on one necklace? He said, ‘Why not? Play with it.’ This is a reflection of the way we work. I think I did surprise him, and the necklace sold straightaway.”
Geffroy doesn’t revisit designs from the archive, but Graff jewelry has a clear DNA. Jewels are crafted with the minimal amount of metal, so that diamonds appear to float. “Every piece of jewelry has to feel like a second skin. It has to be extremely delicate, as though the stones are levitating, held by the wings of an angel.”
Nature is a recurring motif—whether a flower’s asymmetric petals, or the fleeting moment at which a butterfly lands on a stem. Fluidity is another signature. Necklaces, earrings and bracelets are articulated to follow the curves of the skin. “We don’t want anything tight or stiff. It’s not a sculpture—it needs to move with a woman.”
In the last decade, Geffroy has clutched history-making diamonds: from the Graff Pink, a 24 carat pink diamond that broke auction records, to the 302 carat Graff Lesedi La Rona, the world’s largest square emerald cut diamond. Now, the house unveils another record-breaking stone: the Infinity Diamond, an astonishingly beautiful heart-shaped diamond weighing over 150 carats, cut and polished from the Lesedi La Rona’s sister stone.
Set at the centre of the Twombly tiara, it’s the crowning glory of a collection inspired by Laurence Graff’s love of contemporary art. A piece worthy of a fairy tale, it’s the perfect illustration of Geffroy’s exacting approach. “Whether it’s one carat or 100 carats, an everyday jewel or a crown for a princess, the spirit is the same: perfection, perfection, perfection.”