Australian jewellery tastes have come of age, with some of the world's best stones attracting buyers at London's prestigious Graff Diamonds, which opened here last year.
Visiting the brand's Melbourne boutique at Crown this month, international sales director Hugues Jucker brought more than 70 exquisite, mainly one-off, jewellery creations targeted at local buyers.
There were rings cater to every preference, clarity and colour; and standouts from three to five carat options right up to 100 carats.
Despite the vagaries of the global economy, the market for US$10 million (A$13.08 million) rings appears to be buoyant.
"Our specialty almost begins where other jewellers stop," says Jucker. "We have the one to three carat diamond engagement rings, the typical interest in most places, but above five carats and our assortment really starts to become interesting."
A solid investment
The jewellery industry has faced the impact of global political uncertainties but Graff, founded in 1960 by Lawrence Graff (OBE), operates at the very summit of potential clients, including the Sultan of Brunei, and thus buffered from daily economics. Even for less high-net-worth clients, a diamond remains one of the most classic investments.
"When you buy a top quality diamond, from a top quality name – you can't do anything wrong," says Jucker.
"It's very easy to translate a diamond into liquidity. And the history of diamond prices the last 40 or 50 years is that they have mainly been constantly increasing. So you can get your money back and potentially more than what you bought the diamond for. Today there are very few items like that, perhaps only fine art and very rare cars."
House of blues
While Graff's blindingly white diamonds are a signature item, Jucker has observed an escalating fascination with blues and pinks on his visit, bringing for the first time exceptional D and E high colour diamonds with him.
Pinks are extremely expensive but blues sit in another price category again; yet a young couple in their 20s couldn't take their eyes off a highlight of the carnet, a 2-carat Fancy deep blue diamond.
What other advice did Jucker have for budding experts?
"First of all you have to fall in love with the stone, because it's something very personal and it's high value. But if it's for investment then go for the best certificate, the strongest saturation of colour, and rarity."
The stone of love
Diamond tastes may vary internationally but the four Cs – carat weight, cut, colour and clarity – apply wherever you are. In Graff's case the highest symmetry achieved by a cut is paramount.
The precision of the cut always commands the creativity of Graff's classic fine jewellery, rather than the other way around. With stones like these, there's no need to push the design envelope too much.
Cutting and polishing diamonds, especially softer colour diamonds, can be treacherous; one false move rendering a stone worthless. And even with Lawrence's sharp intuition, there is the risk of never knowing what will come from a rough diamond.
But it takes only a glance at an almost metre-long chart of more than 70 notable Graff diamonds to grasp the brand's prodigious trajectory.
Some of Graff's most valuable diamonds have been coloured and Graff is credited for bringing yellow diamonds to the world stage when they were once considered inferior finds. Lawrence has had an appreciation for their warmth since 1974's 47.39-carat The Graff Star of Bombay.
The US$55 million (A$71.7million) Graff Hallucination watch was a typically audacious candy-coloured endeavour in 2014. Who else would have the daring to create the world's most expensive watch, set with 110 carats of blue, pink, yellow and green diamonds?
The matter of risk when it comes to spectacular diamonds is not simply about bravado or the security measures required when Jucker and his colleagues travel with special carnets for Graff's network of 55 boutiques.
Most of Graff's inventory appreciates over time, a simultaneous win for Graff and its clients. Experience has proved that if you buy the best of anything it's going to be a good investment.
There is a simple reason Graff does not need to loan jewellery to celebrities – its diamonds are its stars.
Check out the gallery above to see some of the brightest bling from the Graff collection.