Andrew Grima auction lures collectors with 55 jewels for sale

In September collectors will descend on Bonhams auction house for the auction of 55 jewels and watches by one of the great jewellers of the 20th century.

Andrew Grima citrine and diamond bangle

How apt that Bonhams, that most British of auction houses, should be holding a sale of the largest private collection of Andrew Grima jewellery ever to come to auction.

The owner of the collection, which is set to be auctioned at Bonhams London on 20 September, has chosen to remain anonymous. What we do know, however, is that they have a taste for the very best of British design because Grima, a visionary who created some of the most exciting designs of the 1960s and 70s, is regarded as one of the great jewellers of the 20th century.

Regarded as one of the great jewellers of the 20th century, the largest private collection of Andrew Grima jewellery ever to come to auction will go under the hammer at Bonhams London this September. 

Andrew Grima’s jewels look like they could have been designed today, which is the highest compliment you could pay an artist. The Anglo-Italian jeweller opened his first boutique at 80 Jermyn Street in London in 1966, bringing a radically different attitude to this famously conservative gentleman’s row. Grima had not been trained in jewellery making and he therefore worked with no constraints. His daring creations put originality of design first, gemstones second.

Among the 55 pieces in the sale, a dioptase and diamond pendant (above), circa 1973, is typical of his disregard for tradition (£12,000-18,000). Featuring a heavily textured green mineral unknown to all but a few, the jewel plays on the texture and visual interest of the dioptase rather than its carat count or value.

Another jewel (below) features a large, irregular-shaped Boulder opal – one of Grima’s favourite stones – polished but still in its rough state, its angular edges filled in with shards of gold.

Andrew Grima favoured the unusual over the obvious. Rather than using a faceted stone, he set this 1972 pendant necklace with a large, rough Boulder opal – one of his favourite stones (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

Grima loved to alter the look and feel gold, giving it a matte, bark-like texture, working it into abstract shapes and even, in one brooch (below), transforming it into a delicate pencil shaving (£4,000-£6,000).

Lifelike “pencil shavings” brooch by Andrew Grima, 1968, cast in yellow gold and scattered with brilliant-cut diamonds (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

Some of his earliest pieces, made in the 1960s, will be going under the hammer, including a gold and diamond necklace that is classic Grima (estimate: £4,000-6,000). Grima developed a technique of soldering textured gold wires together that allowed him to create geometric formations that look rigid and unyielding but, thanks to numerous hidden hinges, were incredibly flexible and easy to wear.

One of Andrew Grima’s earliest designs from 1966. Featuring the designer’s signature textured gold wire technique, the necklace looks rigid but is in fact highly flexible thanks to numerous hidden hinges (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

Among the pieces with the highest estimates are a handful of groundbreaking watches, created in collaboration with the Swiss watchmaker Omega. The resulting About Time collection, which launched in London in 1970, sold out within days and is regarded as one of the most avant-garde collections of watches ever made. As much a jewel as a timepiece, Grima’s Greenland watch places the hands behind a slice of pink tourmaline (£20,000-30,000).

Greenland watch from Andrew Grima’s groundbreaking “About Time” collection. The watch face, which is overlaid with a slice of pink tourmaline, has been set into the gritted gold bangle (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Grima’s fans included HM The Queen and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and his creations remain highly desirable, with fashion designers Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada among modern-day collectors of his work. Grima passed away in 2007, but his legacy lives on in his wife Joho and daughter Francesca, who, ever since his death, have created new designs under the family name with all the hallmarks of a Grima jewel.

Andrew Grima reverse-set hexagonal amethysts into a scattering of matte 18-carat gold triangles in this pair of Rock Revival earrings. Designed in 1971, they still look ultra-modern today (estimate: £6,000-8,000).

Despite choosing to remain anonymous, the owner of this collection of Grima jewels succinctly captures why his designs continue to enthral the world: “When you look at a piece of Grima jewellery, you are moved by the exquisite artistry in much the same way that you would be moved standing in front of a beautiful painting. In fact, for me, Andrew Grima is the great impressionist of jewellers.”

Emily Barber, Department Director for Bonhams Jewellery, agrees: “He was essentially an artist whose medium happened to be jewellery. His designs capture the spirit of each era in which he worked yet are still immensely wearable and contemporary today.”  

Read our article about Andrew Grima, from our series about Great British jewellery designers, here

A highly articulated bib necklace by Andrew Grima, 1974, comprised of triangular-cut citrines and diamond, mounted in 18-carat yellow gold (estimate: £15,000-20,000).

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