The jeweller Andrew Grima may not be familiar to everyone. "The thing about Grima is that almost nobody has heard of the name," says Francesca Grima, daughter of the late Andrew Grima, the Italian-born jeweller who was one of the most groundbreaking designers of the 1960s and 70s. "But those who have tend to be the people who matter," she points out.
It was Grima who brought radical modernity to jewels at a time when demure bows, birds and blooms were the style of the day. His designs still influence the look of contemporary jewellery. Rough, organic shapes in gold mimicking sheer faces of rock, galaxies or writhing organisms set with shards of precious stones in exciting colours - his creations shook the jewellery world.
Grima was not a trained jeweller, but as a young engineer in the 1940s he began working in the accounts department of his father-in-law's jewellery business in London. Grima was captivated by a suitcase full of rough-cut semi-precious stones brought into the offices by a Brazilian stone dealer, and he set to work on creating his first ever jewels. His inaugural collection astonished everyone.
"My father Andrew redefined the concept of modern jewellery using a novel interplay of semi-precious stones, as well as fine gems in unexpected juxtapositions," says Francesca. "My mother Jojo worked closely with him in his studio and collaborated with the expert goldsmiths who still work for us today. Together they perfected the art of handmade jewellery, and we continue to work to that high standard today."
Grima's work was recognised by most discerning jewellery lovers of the time. He received the Queen's Royal Warrant in 1966 and designed more than 100 jewels for the Royal Family. Princess Margaret once sent Grima a piece of lichen she had picked up on a walk in Scotland, which he cast in gold and transformed into a brooch and earrings. Great collectors have bought his jewels, including Barbara Hepworth, Jackie Onassis, Estée Lauder and, more recently, Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs. Over the years, Grima was awarded 12 De Beers International Awards, more than any other jeweller in history.
If you want to see more of his work, head to the Art Antiques London show this week, which runs from 12-19 June in Kensington GardensHis wife Jojo and daughter Francesca are carrying on the late Grima's legacy by not only selling jewels signed by Grima but also continuing to make contemporary interpretations of his iconic designs, and the show is a unique opportunity to view and even buy some of Grima's original creations.
Look out for original Grima pieces, including a 328ct quartz cuff with Venus hair inclusions, a brooch with brilliant-cut pavé diamonds set in white gold, and a necklace and earclips made from large baroque pearls set in yellow gold and diamond 'oyster shells'.
Beyond Art Antiques London, Francesca and Jojo Grima are showing their newest collection by appointment only at their Albermarle Street salon from 26 June to 12 July.