Andrew Grima - Design and Design Art New York Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    Italian-born British designer Andrew Grima’s distinctive designs of the 1960s revolutionized the way people perceived and wore jewelry. His ground-breaking designs were organic and thoroughly modern, utilizing unusual stones and metals. Some of his earliest clients included Jackie Kennedy and HM the Queen of England and he was considered the ‘It’ jewelry designer of the swinging '60s in London.

  • Artist Biography

    Andrew Grima

    • 1921 - 2007

    Widely acknowledged as the father of modern jewellery, Andrew Grima was born in Rome into a prosperous Maltese-Italian family, the oldest of nine children.  The family left Mussolini’s Italy to settle in England, but on his father’s death, Grima had to leave school aged 16, to find employment as head of the family. However, showing an early talent for drawing, he continued taking evening classes at Harrow School of Art, and was able to secure a job, as a technical draughtsman, for a civil engineering firm.  He served in the Army during World War 11, and marrying soon after the end of the War, in 1946 he joined his father-in-law’s jewellery manufacturing business, H. J Company.  It was in 1948 that two Brazilian stone dealers visited the company’s offices with a suitcase full of coloured gems, of the variety called semi-precious at the time, and often overlooked for that reason.  Grima’s imagination was sparked and he began experimenting with new designs, new ideas. When his father-in-law passed away, Andrew Grima took over the company, and by the late 1950s, he had changed creative direction, taking on young, innovative goldsmiths in the workshop, and allowing his individualistic, innovative style to emerge. In 1961 Andrew Grima jewels were included in the exhibition of Modern Jewellery, at the Goldsmiths’ Hall London, a turning point in the story of 20th century design and by the mid-60s Grima was known as the foremost jeweller of the day, creator of daringly different designs that drew an illustrious clientele including high society and royalty; H.M The Queen and Princess Margaret were devotees. Grima won numerous awards, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s prize for elegant design, the inaugural Queen’s Award for Industry, and a record 11 De Beers’ Diamonds International Awards.  Grima’s distinctive style was defined by his use of rugged, molten, textured gold, dynamic compositions of textured gold wire, unusual coloured stones, often in their natural, uncut crystalline form, and a new, unsentimental, hyper-realistic view of nature. It was a look of explosive new energy that resonated with the futuristic space age and the social, cultural and artistic revolution of the time.  The organic effect was often achieved by casting from nature, leaves, twigs, even pencil shavings; in 1967 Princess Margaret commissioned a brooch made from lichen found at Balmoral.  In 1966, Grima opened his boutique in Jermyn Street, architect-designed and strikingly brutalist in style, with a façade of slate slabs in a steel framework, and a Perspex staircase inside. The boutique became a destination for the glitterati of the 1970s and more boutiques followed around the world. In 1969, Grima collaborated with Omega on a watch collection, called About Time, and went on to create important themed collections, including Rock Revival, in 1971, Sticks and Stones, 1973, and Tale of Tahiti, a pearl collection in 1974.  In 1975, Grima married his second wife, Jojo Maughan-Brown, great-grand-daughter of Thomas Cullinan, owner of the Premier diamond mine, and in 1986, with their daughter Francesca, the family moved to Switzerland.  Andrew Grima passed away in 2007, and today his wife and daughter continue the business and perpetuate the great legacy created by the trailblazer of this trailblazer of the Modernist movement in British jewellery.

     
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71

Rare brooch

1960s
18K white gold, Quartz crystal, diamond. Impressed “GRIMA,” “0.750” and other hallmarks.
2 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (7 x 4.8 cm)

Estimate
$9,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $7,800

Design and Design Art

24 May 2007
2pm New York