Jewellery from the Swinging Sixties - once relegated to the bottom of the jewellery box or worse, the melting pot is now back in vogue.
COOL GRIMA LEADS JEWELLERY SALE
Jewellery from the Swinging Sixties - once relegated to the bottom of the jewellery box or worse, the melting pot is now back in vogue. The commercial stock of a range of pioneering British goldsmiths from the post-war era has risen substantially since the turn of the 21st century. And the coolest of cool Britannia is Andrew Grima (1921-2007).
Italian émigré Grima opened on staid Jermyn Street in 1966, his landmark shop with its facade of latticed slate and steel, a huge aluminium door that opened via a pressure pad and a Perspex spiral staircase. Designed by his brothers and opened by Lord Snowdon, it looked, wrote one critic, ‘like a lair for a villain in an early Bond movie’.
The jewels inside were just as cutting edge. Grima and his contemporaries such as John Donald, Alan Gard, Gerda Flöckinger and Charles de Temple revolutionised the jewellery world in the 1950s and 60s. Together they embraced the organic and crystalline qualities of uncut semi-precious minerals and adopted an experimental approach to goldsmithing. Grima, who championed the use of textured gold, once cast a brooch from pencil shavings.
At the peak of his fame in the 1970s, when he held a royal warrant as jeweller by appointment to the Queen, Grima had galleries in Zurich, Hong Kong. New York, Tokyo and Sydney.
The pendant Sworders will offer on 5 July was acquired by the vendors in 1979 directly from Grima in Hong Kong. Made c.1970 it comprises a carved rectangular lapis lazuli pendant of a pheasant and dragon to a comma-shaped diamond-set bale. Suspended on a bark-textured bar link chain and in its original case, it is estimated at £2,000-3,000.
The same consignors had earlier visited Grima in Jermyn Street in 1970 where they bought a ‘Pinkerton’ bracelet watch from the 'About Time' collection.
This scarce piece, hallmarked for London 1969 with a movement by Omega, includes many ‘signature’ elements of the Grima style including a tourmaline crystal to the dial, baguette cut diamonds to the bezel and an 18 carat gold link bracelet with a bark finish. An archival photo c.1969 survives of Grima, pipe in mouth at his home in Sonning-on-Thames, designing watches for the collection that ultimately consisted of 55 timekeepers and 30 matching pieces of jewellery. Offered in its original case in pristine condition, this example is expected to bring £8,000-10,000.
Our next Design auction on July 13 will include a dedicated section devoted to photography. Providing the impetus to the new focus is the consignment of a very fine collection of photographs by important 20th century American and European photographers.
Otto Billström joined our Design Department in January this year and believes his Scandinavian heritage aided his appreciation of 20th century design. Let's find out more about him...