Jewelry & Watches

The Story Behind One of Princess Margaret's Favorite Jewelers

Good accessories run in the family.
IMAGE COURTESY NORMAN PARKINSON ARCHIVE/ICONIC IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES (PRINCESS MARGARET AND CHILDREN); COURTESY MAHNAZ COLLECTION (JEWELRY)
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Some of the most interesting pieces in the royal jewelry collection were acquired on a dare. Sometime in the early 1960s, Lord Snowdon, British design aficionado and husband of Princess Margaret, commented that there was nothing really exciting happening in the kingdom in the way of jewelry design.

Andrew Grima, respectfully disagreeing, challenged Snowdon with an invitation to his shop on Jermyn Street. It paid off. Princess Margaret can be seen wearing her Grima brooch in a family portrait from 1965, and by 1966 the queen had some Grima in her collection as well. “It’s a clear example of the British monarchy’s effort to support British jewelry,” says historian and jewelry gallery owner Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos.


Jewels from “London Originals” include the work of Andrew Grima.

Truth was, this period was a high point for national treasures, a fact Bartos has seized on for the exhibit “London Originals: The Jeweler’s Art in Radical Times,” to be presented at Mahnaz Collection on 57th Street through May 11. The show focuses on works created by Grima and his contemporaries, including John Donald, Charles de Temple, and Kutchinsky in the 1960s and ’70s.

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“They came of age when art, architecture, design, and fashion all changed so dramatically,” Bartos says. “Some of them were trained as goldsmiths, some were architects, some were artists. They all caught the fever of that time. They were looking at small diamonds set in white gold, and they started instead to look at natural materials and geodes and crystals.

They decided they were going to explore scale and form in jewelry, and leave stones unpolished and unfaceted. The spirit of the age was infectious.” One can’t help but hope that the singular royal eye that appreciated the radical beauty of Grima’s work will be apparent May 19 at what many expect to be the most modern of royal weddings.

The nuptials, and the bride’s evolving style, will be the subject of two special editions of T&C: American Princess and Royal Wedding, on newsstands April 17 and May 25, respectively. While half the world waits for Meghan Markle’s dress to appear on television, some of us are more focused on the something borrowed—namely, the jewels. Will they be fit for a queen or more suited to the world's new American princess?

This story appears in the May 2018 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Stellene Volandes
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