BRITISH GQ / by Francesca Grima

"The future, as LP Hartley never said, is a different country.  And, once upon a time, the future, at least the future of jewellery and goldsmithing, used to be found at 80 Jermyn Street in St James's, London.  Here, behind a facade of slate, lurked one of the grooviest of Sixties shops: Grima.

Sadly that wonderful shop is long gone, but now, after a long exile in Gstaad, Grima is back in the capital.  Andrew Grima, jeweller by appointment to the elite of swinging London, was one of the most influential talents of the late 20th century.  He died in 2007, but for the last years of his life his daughter Francesca worked alongside him and has succeeded in pulling off that impressive trick of designing in the idiom of her father without merely mimicking his work.

Grima's output was not great in quantity, yet it was seismic in impact.  He more or less invented modern jewellery, at least in Britain.  His work was revolutionary: he dared to use semiprecious stones such as tourmalines, topazes, opals, to create the sort of jewellery that no one had ever dared to dream of making.

Always faultlessly dressed , there was a touch of James Bond about this suave, dapper-suited man who counted Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret among his many high-profile clients.  The Queen summoned him to Buckingham Palace to come up with designs for gifts to the wives of heads of state (lucky them).  When he took to the road to sell his designs around Europe, he did so in an Aston Martin. 

His daughter has inherited that sense of glamour and it helps that she is very easy on the eye. However it is really her grasp of her father's distinctive style that is most impressive: the bold use of rough-cut stones, and the gold that wraps itself around them in coral-like fronds.  It is the sense of texture that Grima prized, and where the more conventional jewellers of his day opted for mirror-polished surfaces or unobtrusive settings, Grima was unafraid to drench a large stone, of geological interest rather than monetary value, in rivers of seemingly molten gold.  Marc Jacobs is a fan - he has been seen wearing a Grima pendant and cufflinks.

He did watches, too.  Omega turned to him to sex up their timepieces in 1969 and the result was a seven-year collaboration that produced some of the most extreme watches of that or any other period.  Even the least fanciful, the handmade Teak model, still produced in small numbers today, has a raw, mineral presence.  This rock'n'roll on the wrist is just as stunning 40 years on, bringing with it an unabashed touch of early-Seventies bling that is simultaneously both period and contemporary.

It it also fair to say that he also did much to establish the male-jeweller-as-rockstar thing that we have today: whether the enigmatic Parisian JAR; the Marc Bolan-alike Stephen Webster or the super-smooth Fawaz Gruosi of de Grisogono...all of which, by the way, were facets of Grima the man and are embodied in the pieces that continue to be made under his name today."

- Nick Foulkes