A group of women has assembled at the de Grisogono boutique on Bergdorf Goodman’s first floor. One client, smitten with a phenomenal half-million-dollar oval-cut white-diamond and emerald cabochon ring, blushes as a gentleman appears from behind and surprises her with an orange leather cord bracelet (with a smattering of brown diamonds and orange and pink sapphires), perfect for a St. Jean beach holiday. “Why not?” says the mysterious man who had been standing unnoticed in a corner. “It’s just a gesture.”
“My clients are like family,” declares de Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi, dressed in a bespoke Caraceni double-breasted charcoal-gray suit, a custom Turnbull & Asser white shirt with a blue-spotted tie and Doriani tassled loafers. His “family” includes the Begum Salimah Aga Khan, Sharon Stone, Naomi Campbell and Carine Roitfeld. With droopy eyelids that reveal Costa Smeralda–green eyes (picture a quietly handsome version of Mohamed Al-Fayed), Gruosi is as enigmatic and romantic as his signature multi-faceted black diamonds. An allure that’s not lost upon his clientele. “It’s an integral part of him,” says Michele Herbert, philanthropist and wife of Pantone founder Larry Herbert, who can’t help eyeing a pair of $488,000 circular drop earrings laden with diamonds and emeralds. “He looks at a woman, and they just love it. You can feel it.”
The genteel-playboy reputation amuses Gruosi no end. “I’m actually very shy,” insists the man known for hosting the most fabulous party each August at Porto Cervo’s Billionaire Club in Sardinia, for a paltry 200 or so “family friends.” His friend and client Denise Rich says: “Fawaz has this easy way about him that people want to be around. He makes you feel comfortable. You can be yourself.” Adds Herbert: “He is one of the sexiest men in the world. Fawaz is always surrounded by literally the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen.”
Over the past three decades, Gruosi has established himself as one of the jet set’s go-to jewelers, with a flair for the unusual, both in his designs and his air of reticence. (“I never push the client. I find it vulgar.”) Perhaps this taste stems from his atypical upbringing. Born in Lebanon to an Italian mother and Lebanese father, Gruosi grew up in Florence (hence the priceless collection of 15th- and 16th-century Florentine antiques at his villa overlooking Lake Geneva), where at 18 he began working for a jeweler. Twelve years later, the potent combination of Saudi Arabia’s Alizera family and Harry Winston discovered him, and he became Winston’s representative in the Middle East. Later Gruosi represented the most priceless jewelry of Bulgari patriarch Gianni Bulgari, whom he credits with “giving me a chance in life,” along with the courage to launch his own business, in 1993. He quickly became known for his avant-garde use of black diamonds, stingray (or Galuchat) leather, and “brown gold,” as well as his Instrumento No. Uno watch, which presaged today’s trend of men’s oversize timepieces.
Although currently in the midst of a divorce from his wife of over 18 years, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, of the Chopard family, this modern-day Medici has no complaints. “I’ve been lucky,” says Gruosi. And he is definitely not forthcoming on his present love life. “I prefer to be at home with my eight dogs,” he insists. “They talk without talking. They feel you.”
Sound like someone we know?