Luisa Graff, Luisa Graff Jewelers

When asked how Luisa Graff chose the jewelry business, she replied, “I didn’t chose the jewelry business, it chose me!” Gems, minerals, and precious metals have been a part of her life from the very beginning.

Born to a Peruvian mother and American father, Luisa’s early life was easy, if not privileged. Her father was an adventurer as well as a chemist, metallurgist, and engineer. His travels took him to Peru where he learned the mining trade and opened his own copper, gold, and silver mines.

In 1968, the Velasco Regime forcefully took ownership of the mines Luisa’s father had established. He was kidnapped and sent to Costa Rica. For years, the family did not know his whereabouts. Soldiers ransacked Luisa’s home leaving nothing of value except the family’s hidden silver, gold, and jewelry. These items would enable the family start anew in the United States.

At 12, with the help of the American Embassy, Luisa was transported to the U.S. to live with an elderly aunt. She carried with her the family’s gold and jewelry. Two years later, her mother followed.

To make ends meet, Luisa’s mother sold the family valuables to a jewelry dealer in Colorado Springs. Quite taken with Luisa’s keen mind, the dealer jokingly offered her a job. She took him seriously and reported for work the next day. Thus began Luisa’s career in the jewelry business. She was 14.

A gifted student, Luisa entered Claremont McKenna College at 17. After college, she returned to Colorado Springs to work with her former boss at the jewelry store. He then sponsored her tuition the Gemological Institute of America.

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As a child of war, Luisa experienced suffering at a young age, but her spirit was never broken. She firmly believes “you can be bitter, or you can give back.”

Her store donates to more than 40 philanthropic organizations each year.

She has served on numerous boards, is an active member of the Read to Succeed Program, a Presenter for Marriage Encounter, and a Rotary Club Community Art Show chairperson. In 1996-1997, Luisa was instrumental in MEXAM receiving a $300,000, 3-H Grant from the Rotary Club to combat intestinal parasitic deceases throughout Mexico City.