about grima

Founded by Andrew Grima, society jeweller to the royals and the stars in the sixties, wife Jojo and daughter Francesca continue the tradition of creating highly original modern jewellery, forming a blend of personal exclusivity and universal desirability.

Francesca Grima's talent for creating remarkable jewellery came not just from the emotional support her parents provided, but also from their creative inspiration. "My father Andrew Grima redefined the concept of 'modern jewellery' during the 1960s and 70s using a novel interplay of semi-precious stones as well as fine gems in unexpected juxtaposition. My mother Jojo worked closely with my father 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 today to work at that high standard."
Francesca Grima was fortunate to have spent 10 years working with her father before his death in 2007. The family had lived and worked in Switzerland for two decades. Francesca and Jojo have recently relocated to London where they now receive clients by appointment. Andrew and Jojo Grima set a glamorous standard for Francesca, who accompanied them on their myriad travels and introduced her to the celebrated and royal friends and patrons who had made Andrew Grima the society jeweller of the time.
Grima's Jermyn Street shop in London brought a radical modernity to the staid St James's area when it debuted in the mid-60s as well as a mix of celebrities, socialites and royalty who provided a constant stream of kudos to the designer. "My father was a worldly, sophisticated innovator with a very refined taste for the good life. He despised mediocrity and used his talent and energy to shake up the status quo with a fine-tuned sense of glamour, style and creativity that attracted patronage from those who were drawn naturally to the new ideas in art, fashion and culture which were coming to the fore” 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 having served nearly five years with the 7th Indian Division in Burma. 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 been working in accounts at the time! In fact, Grima had always been a prolific amateur artist which, combined with the technical drawing skill gained as an engineer, gave him the tools required to exploit his creative genius. He was interested in the organic and abstract possibilities of jewellery design and made an early decision to move away from the forms and materials of classical jewellery prevalent at the time. He preferred gold to silver, textured and unconventional stones over classic shapes and cuts. The impact of Grima’s designs always outweighed their intrinsic value and for this reason his pieces are much sought after by collectors who recognize his place as one of, if not the greatest post-war jewellery designer of the 20th century.
His popularity soared when he received widespread recognition at the Exhibition of International Jewellery in 1961, the first show to feature jewellery by modern artists such as Henry Moore, Calder and Picasso. Grima was the only jewellery designer to be awarded the Duke Edinburgh Prize for Elegant Design. The prize-winning collection included a ruby and diamond brooch given to HM the Queen by the Duke. She still wears the brooch in public and recently lent it to the V&A to celebrate 60 years of British design. Grima went on to win twelve De Beers Diamond International Awards – more than any other jeweller in history. He opened his Jermyn Street shop in 1966, received the Queen’s Royal Warrant in the same year and went on to design more than 100 pieces for the Royal Family. Lord Snowdon was an early patron and became a personal friend. HRH Princess Margaret once sent Grima a piece of lichen she had picked up on a walk in Scotland which he cast in gold, offset with diamonds and transformed into a brooch and earrings. He was commissioned to create original jewellery for diplomatic gifts, including the "Pompidou" brooch that the Queen presented to Madame Pompidou on a State visit to France in 1972. In 1969 Grima was commissioned by Omega to create a collection of watches, which developed the idea of seeing time through gemstones. This collection was known as “About Time”. In the 1970’s Grima opened shops in New York, Sydney, Tokyo and Zurich.
"My parents supported my creative efforts by example," Francesca says. "My mother and I are very close and we both are drawn to the same organic forms my father loved. The tactile, three-dimensional quality of mixing unusual elements from nature and history with textured gold. My designs incorporate amethysts, lapis, opals, coral, natural emeralds, tourmalines, agate, peridot, and my favorite dendrites and rock crystal. My father once set diamonds in petrified wood millions of years old and he would pick up leaves and sticks in the woods and cast them in gold. He even used Tahitian pearls as ducks swimming on an amethyst sea. I am inspired by the same natural elements." "These pieces are in character with what my father would have made if he were designing today but at the same time they are my own interpretation of what the Grima brand should represent today” Grima designs have been described variously as 'wearable sculpture,' or modern, sexy, and voluptuous. It's not unusual to see a Grima design fashioned from watermelon tourmaline with diamond stamens, or find a fire opal set in beaten gold, or a huge Colombian emerald pendant tied up with ribbons of diamonds or a waterfall necklace of water-blue oval opals sprayed with diamond drops. The Grima way has always been to mix precious and semi-precious gemstones together but with diamonds and other fine gems as an accent, not the centerpiece of the design, which most often is something from nature in a rough form. These bold designs seem natural today but back in the 60s Grima was viewed as extraordinarily radical, being so different from the prevailing demure 'bows, birds and blooms'. That is why the iconic style-setters of every generation have been drawn to the brand. In the 60s and 70s it was people like Princess Margaret, Jackie Onassis, Peter Sellers, Estee Lauder and sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and more recently, fashion designers Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs.
“The thing about Grima is that almost nobody has heard the name….but those that have tend to be the people who matter.” And, Francesca maintains, it is likely to stay that way. “Most collections are tightly held and we make about 20 to 30 new pieces a year the reason being that only a handful of ageing goldsmiths who we have employed for over 40 years understand the techniques we use and can match our very high requirements. “We develop a very personal rapport with the women who come to us for Grima designs," Jojo says. "My husband sketched new designs constantly and I learned from him that there is no substitute for sharing time with clients on an exclusive basis. By working 'by appointment' we insure that each client gets our full attention when they visit us. This distinguishes us from commercial jewellers."