We got an exclusive look at the first chapter of the Graff Goddesses campaign, Legend of Mermaids, and spoke to diamond mounter and Graff General Manager Sam Sherry about the process of making pieces as incredible and intricate as these.
Graff combines handmaking processes and CADs, Computer-Aided Designs in their jewelry making to create precise and aesthetically pleasing pieces. “Doing it in CAD allows us to minimize the visual impact of the structure piece but it gives us a lot more control of the aesthetic side as well,” explains Sherry.
Traditionally, pieces are hand-mounted and can sometimes take 2 to 3 hand-mounters to create jewelry like the ones in the Graffabulous collection. “By using CAD technology, you can make the design language consistent throughout the entire collection and there’s no drift from the vision of the designer,” explains Sherry. The designers are consulted every step of the way to ensure their vision is kept intact and the emotions of the piece shine through.
Of course, when it comes to dreaming up the designs, it all starts with the diamonds. “We wanted to express the colossal forces of nature required to create diamonds,” said a Graff representative. The campaign’s shoot locations play into the raw nature of diamonds themselves, filming in “untouched, panoramic landscapes” that acted as the perfect metaphor.
The designers working on this collection have carefully color and sized matched every stone for each piece, with every stone and design approved by the Graff family themselves. “We’ll then digitize those stones,” says Sherry of the process. “We’ll scan them at a very high resolution, and we capture the facets down to a precision of 2 micron so they’re an exact digital version.”
Sherry and his team play with these digital versions of the stones, pushing and pulling them around the digital structure. “At that stage, before we do any more work we’ll do a 3D-printed prototype,” says Sherry. “We’re essentially replicating an ancient process where previously, maquettes, or a preliminary model of the piece, might have been made in clay or pewter or even wood.” By replicating this process with CAD technology and 3D printing, every step is extremely precise and true to the original stones.
Although based in science and technology, the heart of the jewelry never leaves the process. “We never let the mechanics of the piece dictate the aesthetic,” Sherry says. “We really need to capture the spirit of the piece and the spirit of the designers’ vision and then our work happens when we bring that to life.” CAD technology allows Sherry to be meticulous and precise, making for an incredible final product.
The designers’ vision plays into the campaign as well. “As the designs for the pieces were finalized, we took inspiration from them to create the stories of the goddesses we imagined might wear these fabulous jewels,” says Graff.
“With Graff there’s always an element of handmade that comes into these pieces,” Sherry tells us. “We never use CAD as a mass production tool, rather, we essentially use it as a hand production tool in a digital realm.” Plus, these high jewelry pieces are one of a kind and mass production isn’t even in consideration. “It’s all about bringing precision and consistency throughout the collection.”
Plus, a seasoned diamond mounter like Sherry knows that the stones take center stage in any piece he works on. “The mechanics have to be hidden in this type of jewelry,” he explains. “The joints, hinges and calottes must have as little impact on the stones as possible. You’re trying to make them appear as if they’re floating on the wearer.” Looking at the final products in the Legends of Mermaid campaign, floating is definitely the word that comes to mind.
“These pieces represent the pinnacle of our high jewelry creations,” a brand representative told OND. “Each one is the embodiment of pure fantasy.” That fantasy certainly comes into play in the location of the campaign shoot, a secluded beach in Sri Lanka.
The Legend of Mermaids is just the first chapter in this 6-part odyssey. “These are storytelling jewels, each chapter draws inspiration form powerful women of ancient mythology, retold by our three contemporary Graff Goddesses.”
We can’t wait to see more from the Graff Goddesses as the next Graff campaign chapters unfold.