Graff Imperial Blue Diamond

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Origin of name

The name "Imperial Blue" selected for the diamond by its owner Laurence Graff, seems to reflect the exceptional color, clarity and cut of this rare diamond, worthy of being part of a collection of jewels belonging to an emperor or monarch.

Characteristics of the diamond

The "Imperial Blue" diamond is a 39.81-carat, pear-shaped, fancy blue diamond with an internally flawless (IF) clarity grade, and it is perhaps the largest flawless fancy blue diamond in the world. In the list of known notable blue diamonds in  the world the "Imperial Blue" diamond occupies the 3rd position. See table below.

 

List of famous blue diamonds

S/N

Name

carat weight

color

1 Hope diamond 45.52 fancy dark grayish blue
2 Tereschenko 42.92 fancy blue
3 Graff Imperial Blue 39.81 fancy blue
4 Wittelsbach 35.56 fancy intense blue
5 Sultan of Morocco 35.27 fancy grayish blue
6 The Blue Heart 30.82 fancy intense blue
7 The Heart of Eternity 27.64 fancy vivid blue
8 Transvaal Blue 25.00 unknown color grade
9 The Blue Empress 14.00 unknown color grade
10 The Begum Blue 13.78 fancy vivid blue
11 The Blue Magic 12.02 fancy vivid blue
12 Graff Blue  6.19 fancy blue

 

The "Imperial Blue" diamond is a rare Type IIb diamond in which the blue color is caused by the presence of trace quantities of boron impurities in the crystal structure of the diamond. Boron is an element that has an atomic size comparable to carbon atoms, and therefore can be easily accommodated in the diamond crystal made up of carbon atoms. The presence of boron also imparts a semi-conducting property to blue diamonds, which is unique when compared to other diamonds which are usually non-conducting. However blue diamonds are very rare in nature because their occurrence is less than 0.1 % of all naturally occurring diamonds. It is said that in the Premier Diamond Mines of Transvaal, South Africa, only one significant blue diamond, is mined every year out of all the rough production of diamonds in these mines for an year. This indicates the rarity of occurrence of blue diamonds.

 

History

Diamonds are found in Guinea in the Macenta and Areodor districts of the Provinces of Malenka and Sousson. The Areodor mines in Guinea has produced some significantly large diamonds, like the Mouawad Magic diamond, discovered in 1991 and weighing 244.6 carats. Guinea produces a substantial quantity of diamonds every year but not as high as its neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Since 1984 there has been a boost in production of diamonds in Guinea, and most of the diamonds produced are excellent gem-quality grade.

The Imperial Blue diamond was discovered in Guinea in recent years from alluvial deposits. The rough diamond weighed 101.50 carats, and was kept in the custody of Government officials until suitable buyers could be found for it. Finally the Government decided to dispose of the rough diamond by a sort of tender, calling for written bids from a group of selected international buyers who were invited for the auction. Lawrence Graff, the owner of the London-based company Graff Diamonds, a renowned international jewelry and gem dealer, was one of those dealers who had the privilege of being invited for this auction. Graff who is said to be a "merchant of brilliants" and a "brilliant merchant" is one of a rare breed of diamond dealers who has the ability to recognize instinctively the potential of a stone in its rough form.  Graff inspected the diamond before the auction and was convinced of its potential to produce an exceptional quality blue diamond when cut and polished. He submitted a written bid for the diamond without any hesitation, but was marginally outbid by another dealer.

Graff did not loose hope, and having been convinced of the potential of the stone he monitored its progress at every stage of the cutting and polishing process in the hands of a master cutter, who gradually eliminated all imperfections and inclusions in the rough stone, sacrificing a major portion of the original rough weight of the stone, until it emerged as a 39.81-carat, flawless, pear-shaped diamond of exceptional color. In the processing of diamonds there is always an inevitable loss of quantity in attempting to maximize for quality. Graff initiated negotiations with the owner of the diamond and was finally  successful in acquiring the rare diamond. He then set the stone in a platinum ring and unveiled the diamond to the world. The diamond was sold within 48 hours of leaving his workshop to an anonymous buyer.

 

Laurence Graff four-time recipient of the Queen's Award for enterprise in International trade.

The House of Graff is one of the leading companies in the world today dealing in high-end diamond jewelry, and was founded by Laurence Graff, the "King of Diamonds," who is said to have had a passion for diamonds from an early age. The company is involved in all stages of the diamond industry, beginning with mining, followed by cutting and polishing, manufacturing of exquisite fine jewelry and finally marketing of the products through a network of outlets in leading cities of the world such as New York, London, Moscow, Geneva, Monte Carlo and Dubai.

In South Africa Graff has a subsidiary company going by the name of South African Diamond Corporation (SAFDICO), which is involved in mining activities in South Africa, Botswana and other African Countries.

Graff has diamond processing factories in New York, Antwerp, Johannesburg, and Mauritius. The New York and Antwerp workshops specialize in the processing of large diamonds and are manned by highly experienced cutters headed by master cutters. The Johannesburg and Mauritius factories besides specializing on the processing of smaller diamonds also have workshops that set the diamonds into Graff's iconic jewelry. The largest of these factories is in Johannesburg which employs over 300 craftsmen and processes over tens of thousands of diamonds weighing thousands of carats each year. Today Graff is the largest producer of polished diamonds in South Africa.

The workshop in London is the largest in-house workshop for handmade fine jewelry in the world, which employs 70 skilled and experienced craftsmen turning out magnificent handmade jewelry for all the Graff outlets.

The success story of Graff is not an overnight achievement. It is the story of the entrepreneurial spirit of an individual with humble beginnings, who ventured into his chosen profession when he was barely 15 years old, having dropped out of school. He installed a bench in his bedroom, and began to turnout and repair simple and inexpensive pieces of jewelry. By the age of seventeen Graff had his own business. He had mastered the art of making jewelry from the beginning to the end during his early years of working at the jeweler's bench. He had now turned out enough pieces of jewelry, but had no clients to buy them. Thus he was forced to go out on the road to sell his jewelry, and went from shop to shop peddling his wares. It is said that he peddled rings for £3 in London's East End during his early days as an apprentice. His business gradually grew and he started supplying shops as demand for his jewelry also gradually rose. With more successes the business expanded and he ventured out into the world holding his first exhibition of jewelry in Singapore, which turned out to be decisive, as he was able to clinch several orders to supply shops in Singapore as a wholesaler.

The diamond set jewelry he sold to the trade at the beginning consisted of smaller stone of 1 to 5 carats in size. The first big diamond he purchased was a 14-carat, off color, round brilliant, for which he paid about £ 200. Gradually the stones got bigger and bigger and he purchased entire collections of newly polished stones, which he presented as exquisitely handcrafted solitaires. Graff's  company eventually became the largest manufacturing company in Great Britain and in 1972 Graff decided to go public on the stock market, and embark on the retail business. One of his first retail stores was set up in London near Harrods Departmental Store, and was a great success. The store was patronized by affluent customers from the middle east which included  customers from several Arab Royal families.

The climax of his career came in 1973, when Graff became the first jeweler in Great Britain to receive the Queen's award for enterprise in international trade. Graff also became the first jeweler to have received the same award on multiple occasions from the Queen, when in October 2006, he received the award for the fourth time.

 

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