By  on September 10, 2007

Ultraexclusive luxury is riding a wave of unparalleled wealth — and it could just catapult uberexpensive jeweler Graff into a $1 billion brand.

"We are in times we have never seen before," said Henri Barguirdjian, the tall, imposing and charming president and chief executive officer of Graff, America. "There's more money than ever floating around."

High-end diamond jewelry sales are brilliant, due in part to an influx of new buyers. Young billionaires starting in their early 30s from places like Russia, Dubai, Macau, Kazakhstan and India are gobbling up large and important stones. Whereas top jewelers once had to compete for the small crop of middle-aged and elder consumers, now it seems there are enough to go around.

To service its seemingly ever-growing clientele, Graff is expanding with four new stores — including, notably, its first two boutiques in Asia. The 3,500-square-foot store in Tokyo, slated to open this week, is located in the city's Marunouchi, across from the Imperial Palace and not far from Ginza. The Hong Kong store is situated within the Peninsula Hong Kong and will open next spring.

The firm also will open a store on Geneva's Rue du Rhone early next year, while a long-planned new Manhattan flagship designed by Peter Marino also will open next year.

The average sales transaction? $400,000.

Barguirdjian seems astounded by his clients.

"We are really living in unbelievable times," he said. "We're trading with much younger clients than jewelers a generation ago. These are self-made businessmen and -women in their 30s and 40s — very young people."

While these clients are new to purchasing $1 million diamond suites, they are educated about the goods.

"They are very keen and sharp about the quality they receive," Barguirdjian said.

The company now has 13 stores and may go up to a total of 20. There would be more, but, due to limits of supplies, it's just not possible.

"The level of product we sell is so special, so there will never be 50 stores," Barguirdjian said. "Graff would become just a company. Not what we are now."

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