By Michelle Graff

With a surname like Graff and
a job covering the diamond industry, I’m constantly asked if I’m related to
well-known diamantaire and billionaire Laurence Graff.

To answer this question once
and for all, no.

To be honest, until I took
this job, I had never heard of Laurence Graff. The most famous Graff in my mind
was tennis player Steffi Graf—different spelling but possibly the same family.
(It’s my understanding that my relatives added the extra “F” when they
immigrated to the United States.)

In any case, this Graff opted
last week to take a tour of that Graff’s relatively new store on Madison Avenue
with help from Graff public relations director Danielle Rossi.

The store, which opened in
November and is an upgrade from a smaller space Graff used to occupy nearby,
didn’t disappoint.

My first observation about
the store (I’ll skip all the boring details about the elegant décor, which is
intended to be sophisticated yet not intimidating, etc., etc.)
  is that it definitely was not dead.

People milled in and out,
sitting with sales associates at the swank tables and pouring over pieces of
dazzling diamond jewelry.

In a store like Graff
Diamonds, there is no shortage of eye-catching pieces; Laurence Graff is famous
for plunking down millions for some of the world’s most high-profile rough and
polished diamonds, like the recent 478-carat rough diamond dubbed the “Leseli
la Letseng” (the Light of Letseng), a diamond recovered from the Letseng le
Terai Mine in the African kingdom of Lesotho.

Through manufacturing arm
Safdico, Graff (Laurence, not Michelle) paid $18.4 million for the stone.

And while stones such as the
70-carat fancy intense-yellow cushion-cut ring sparkling from one of the
rotating display cases can’t be missed, my favorite piece in the store was
actually a dark-gray pearl ring surrounded by what could best be described as
an art deco-inspired fan of diamonds.

Alas, however, as I
discovered through chatting with Danielle, Graff doesn’t loan pieces, even to
people with the same surname.

It looks like a moniker is
all I will ever share with Laurence Graff.

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