The story of the GRIMA "Lei" necklace

Ursula Andress wears the "Lei" necklace at the Goldsmiths' Company, 1966

Ursula Andress wears the "Lei" necklace at the Goldsmiths' Company, 1966

On a trip to Hawaii in the early 1960s, Andrew Grima was inspired by the waves along the island's coastline; it was there he created the first sketch of what would become the award-winning "Lei" necklace. 

Andrew built on his previous work with textured wire; he knew that this technique allowed him to achieve a sense of lightness and movement. In order to portray the glints of sunlight reflecting on a breaking wave, Andrew randomly placed brilliant-cut diamonds along the edge of the necklace. 

At first appearing to be rigid in design, its thousands of wires and hidden hinges, gave the necklace the flexibility to embrace the wearer with the fluidity of a wave. Achieving this result required unique skills which only a handful of goldsmiths mastered. Each wire had to be soldered to the next and numerous hinges were then discreetly integrated into the back. It was Andrew's engineering background and imagination that led him to invent this unique way of creating jewellery, a technique that today is widely known as GRIMA's signature design. 


In 1966, Andrew won the Duke of Edinburgh Prize for Elegant Design with a collection featuring the "Lei" necklace as its centrepiece.  In the same year, the necklace was given individual praise when it claimed the coveted De Beers Diamonds International Award.  

Half a century later, Jojo Grima commissioned the original goldsmith to recreate Andrew's "Lei" necklace once again. Now in his late seventies, it took the master craftsman over two years to complete this iconic necklace.

The "Lei" necklace will be on display at Masterpiece London 2017