In 1960 Laurence Graff founded the multinational jeweler Graff Diamonds, which has since earned him the nickname “King of Diamonds,” and which notably relies on the Kimberly process, meaning that the company never knowingly buys or trades diamonds from areas that would engender conflict or human suffering. Graff left school at the age of 15 to become an apprentice at a local East London jeweler and, by the early 1960s, was running his own two jeweler shops in Hatton Garden, the center of London’s jewelry trade since the Middle Ages. Graff began going to art exhibitions at a young age; in a 2008 interview with Peter M. Brant in Interview, he said the first artist that made an impression on him was Chan Canasta, a magician he saw on television, who also painted under his birth name Chananel Mifelew. In the same interview, Graff said he “bypassed the ’80s artists,” collecting mostly Impressionist works at the time. Today his collection includes valuable works by artists like Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 2013, Graff was awarded an Order of the British Empire.
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