Jewels of the Crown: Behind the Scenes at Graff

At Graff’s storied Mayfair workshop, homegrown talents build on handcrafted tradition.

James Hill
OF 10

Laurence Graff began his career at age 15, apprenticing in a London jewelry shop. Some 60 years and 55 stores later, all of Graff’s rings, pendants, and 216-carat diamond briolette necklaces are still handcrafted in Mayfair. A spare labyrinth beneath the Albemarle Street flagship, Graff’s workshop employs more than 75 craftsmen—some of whom have been with the brand for more than 35 years. These men and women, regular Londoners who look more suited to pubs than precious gems, create between 40 and 60 unique pieces every week. Each specializes in just one of the many steps, pictured in the slideshow, required to bring Graff’s designs to life: building the setting, selecting stones, and mounting them, cutting, and polishing. Artisans versed in these centuries-old techniques are increasingly rare, especially in London. "New technology certaintly assists in achieving a level of refinement that simply wasn't possible 50 years ago," Graff, now 77, explains. "But it will never replace the skills and experience of our craftsmen, who ensure absolute perfection is achieved in every piece."