The late jewelry designer Andrew Grima may not be a household name, but jewelry historians consider the self-taught designer to be one of jewelry’s seminal Modernists—and a pivotal figure in the evolution of British jewelry design.
This September, collectors of Grima’s innovative designs will have an unprecedented opportunity to add to their stash.
Bonhams will auction the largest private collection of Grima’s work ever to come up for public sale at its Fine Jewelry show on September 20 in London. Fifty-five pieces of the designer’s work will be showcased at the sale.
In the Swinging Sixties in London, Grima, the son of a jeweler who served in the British Army during World War II, wowed the West End with his intricate, architectural designs. His pieces were often oversized, sometimes beautifully askew, and almost always glittering with colorful gemstones.
His earliest clients included Jackie Kennedy Onassis and actress Ursula Andress. And Grima was a firm favorite with the British royal family in the ’60s and ’70s. He created a gold-and-ruby brooch for Queen Elizabeth II that she wears to this day (he would later be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Prize for Elegant Design and the Queen’s Award for Export).
Queen Elizabeth in a ruby brooch made for her in the 1960s by Andrew Grima (Image courtesy of Grima)
His designs took inspiration from art, sculpture, and nature. And usually their value “lay in their aesthetic composition rather than just in the carat weight of expensive diamonds and precious gems,” noted Emily Barber, department director of Bonhams Jewelry, in a company statement.
Grima’s modern day collectors include designers Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada.
A gold, dioptase, and diamond pendant by Andrew Grima, 1973; estimated to sell for $15,500–$23,500
Gold, citrine, and diamond Cerini watch from the About Time Omega collection by Andrew Grima, 1969; estimated to sell for $19,500–$26,000
Barber also noted that Grima’s work “is distinct in terms of its design, quality, and originality. He was essentially an artist whose medium happened to be jewelry. His designs capture the spirit of each era in which he worked.”
The Bonhams collection includes some of the designer’s earliest pieces from the 1960s, works he made in the 1970s and 1990s, and an assortment of jewelry he made just before his death in 2007.
Among the pieces are watches from Grima’s innovative collection for Omega, About Time. The designer was commissioned by the watchmaker in 1969, and his boundary-pushing designs for the collection (see photo at top) feature gemstone-topped bezels—a new concept at the time. The collection launched in 1970 in London and sold out within days.
A gold and diamond necklace by Andrew Grima, circa 1966; estimated to sell for $5,200–$7,800
(Top: Stepping Stones aquamarine watch by Andrew Grima)