Griegst’s golden cosmos spins back into orbit
The riotous imagination of 1960s Copenhagen jeweller, sculptor and goldsmith Arje Griegst translated masterfully into his striking Baroque jewels: a ring formed of a curling golden wave breaking over a sharply cushion-cut white diamond, a royal tiara shaped into a summer meadow overgrown with nodding poppies, and an Edvard Munch-like pendant dripping coloured pearls. Now, two years after his death, his son, photographer Noam Griegst, has picked out ten pieces from the archive to re-issue them for Dover Street Market London.
‘Cosmos’ ring in gold with diamonds and ruby, circa 1990
Arje began his career in the early 1960s, training with silversmith Just Andersen before bringing 40 sketches of new rings to Anders Hostrup-Pedersen, the dynamic manager of Georg Jensen. A prominent figure in the Danish craft world, with a keen eye for new talent, Hostrup-Pedersen commissioned 20 of Arje’s rings and agreed to send him away to Paris with a handful of gemstones and pearls to work with.
The resulting pieces were Arje’s first anti-modern statement as a jewellery artist. ‘The rings were like small sculptures in 20-ct gold and precious stones’ says Noam. ‘When they were shown at Georg Jensen, the press wrote that it was a crime against modernism’s demand for light and air, but the collection turned out to be in tune with the times – all the pieces were sold within two weeks.’
Arje was known for his painstaking approach – a single ring could take as long as two years to perfect, using his own wax mixture and casting technique – and Noam is now using the very same casts, collaborating with some of the goldsmiths that worked for his father. ‘A heritage of such a size is an enormous responsibility. There are many pieces that I want to re-issue, but they are very complex and challenging to produce, even for the goldsmiths that we are working with today. Tastes have changed many times since we started making jewellery in the 1960s, but real beauty transcends time.’
Arje’s vision steered towards the transcendent. The pieces re-made for Dover Street Market include the ‘Cosmos’ ring, which swirls into itself like a diamond-set galaxy, while the ‘Stardust’ ring, pitted with craters, clusters around the finger. The ‘Spiral’ earrings are formed of twists of ribbed gold, each punctuated with a white diamond. ‘One of my father’s main inspirations was transformation, and the metamorphoses that happen in nature,’ explains Noam. ‘He had a very clear idea of the universe that he created throughout his life.’§