2 July 2019
The jeweller Andrew Grima may not be familiar to everyone; in fact his name is one that most have never even heard of! Andrew Grima however was one of the most ground breaking jewellery designers of the 1960s and 70s.
It was Grima who brought radical modernity to jewels at a time when demure bows, birds and blooms were the style of the day. Today his designs still influence the look of contemporary jewellery with rough, organic shapes in gold mimicking sheer faces of rock, galaxies or writhing organisms set with shards of precious stones in exciting colours. His work was unique, radical and revolutionary, taking jewellery to a whole new level of creative design.
Andrew Grima was Roman by birth with a mother descended from the Farnese family of Papal fame but was raised in Britain from an early age. He trained as an engineer and only entered the jewellery business after the war. In 1946 he joined his future father-in-law’s jewellery business in London, where he astonished everyone with his first improvised collection based on a suitcase full of rough-cut semi-precious stones brought-in one day by a Brazilian dealer. This creative burst took everyone by surprise as he had till then been working in accounts department of the firm!
Grima never trained as a jeweller and did not know or care what was supposed to be done with the semi-precious stones and their metal settings. What he wanted to do was radical. He left the rocks large and rough, made the textures natural and the shapes abstract. His creations usually began as paintings, and he also perfected direct casts from nature with gold facsimiles of volcanic lava, leaves, even lichen, sometimes glittering with a scattering of diamonds.
His popularity soared when he received widespread recognition at the Exhibition of International Jewellery in 1961 organised by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. It was the first show of its type featuring jewellery by modern artists such as Henry Moore, Calder and Picasso and Grima’s work was recognised as being more than just jewellery but small artistic creations in their own right!