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VF pages / sharing controlled by users


I am struggling with an issue regarding the sharing needs of oncoming groups of users.

They are looking for a system in which all companies would be shared, with each group having its own private sections on the page layout. Easy enough.

But the complication comes with contacts and opportunities - they want the existence of all records to be shared, but the details to only be shared across groups when allowed. Thus, user from group A would search, find a contact has previous relationship with someone from group B, and have to go through the person in B to get the contact's info.

I had devised a system using record types and page layouts - one for group A, one for group B, and one for "shared" objects that works, but seems clunky.
However, it is not going to be only 2 groups. It will be an expanding number of groups, so managing via record type / layout relationships is impracticable.

Am now considering VF page - where the record owner could check boxes (or something) to allow other users acces to the contact details.

Please- does this sound like an practical path to be heading down? Any tips or leads would be appreciated. thanks