November 20, 2022

THE 1970S

Aesthetically speaking, the 1970s were something of a mixed bag. It was the decade that combined Donny OsmondThe Bay City Rollers and Van Der Graaf Generator at the same time as David BowieRoxy Music and Marvin Gaye. On the fashion front, ridiculous wide collars, double denim and chest hair vied with sublime HalstonWestwood and Yves Saint Laurent. In short it was a time when the cultural gods gave generously with one hand and capriciously dashed away with the other.


"Elegance" watch, 1970


Meanwhile in London, Andrew Grima was at the height of his powers. If the 1960s established his name as the world’s pre-eminent jewellery designer, the 1970s saw him embellish this reputation with a series of astonishing new jewellery and watch collections. Shortly after receiving the Queen’s Royal Warrant in 1970, Grima was approached by Omega to design and manufacture a collection of dress watches that would redefine the genre at a time when the digital watch was threatening to make redundant the craft of manufacturing complicated movements encased in gold. He agreed, and for a fee of one million pounds (an inconceivable £30,000 per watch in 1970!), set about creating the About Time collection of 30 or so hand-made watches designed around the simple, but ingenious theme of seeing time through a precious gemstone. Six years later he repeated the exercise, ironically for Pulsar, who had produced the first digital watch but were now losing pricing power to the likes of Casio and Texas Instruments.


 "Greenland" watch, 1970


Alongside the watches, Andrew Grima created a wonderful series of themed jewellery collections between 1970 and 1974. Designed to be showcased in the Round Room basement of his flagship gallery at 80 Jermyn Street, the first, Opal & Pearl was launched in 1970, and followed by Rock Revival (1971), Supershells (1972), Sticks and Stones (1973) and A Tale of Tahiti in 1974. Each collection comprised 100 or so unique pieces any one of which of which would represent the creative apotheosis of a mere mortal designer’s career. The collections of the 1970s bear testament to Grima’s artistic genius, prolific creativity and superhuman energy.


 Beryl necklace, 1973

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