Georg Jensen (1866-1935, often misspelled George Jensen) was a Danish silversmith who started the Copenhagen-based company that still bears his name in 1904. Although he trained as a goldsmith from 1880-1884, Jensen was initially intent on being a sculptor and ceramist. That pursuit occupied him until 1901, when he took a post with acclaimed Arts and Crafts silversmith Mogens Ballin.

Ballin encouraged Jensen to follow his instincts, which shaded to the natural order and balanced, organic embellishment of Art Nouveau. Jensen had profound respect for his chosen material, so much so that he insisted on creating not just stunning pieces (rings, brooches, cufflinks, earrings, pendants, bracelets) but an entirely new tradition of silver craftsmanship. In that respect, he appears to have learned a thing or two from Ballin.

Most of Jensen’s first silver jewelry pieces featured flowers, bunches of grapes, birds, and other animals. Jensen’s silver was hammered to create a pebbled surface, then oxidized to give his designs depth and distinctive tints. Semi-precious, often locally quarried stones such as agate, amber, opals, and malachite were also used, but sparingly. Some pieces were formed from 18-karat gold, but for Jensen, silver was his main medium.

For collectors, an important aspect of Jensen’s earliest work is the fineness of the silver, which varied from 826 to 830 to 925 (sterling). It wasn’t until 1933 that sterling silver was used exclusively at Jensen, which gives fans of his early work a clear way to date a vintage piece.

The Jensen silversmith shop, which also produced cutlery and hollowware, quickly made a name for itself throughout Scandinavia and Europe. Jensen had a growing following in the Unites States, too. His first North American exhibition in San Francisco, in 1915, generated several gold medals — newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst even bought a couple of pieces.

But it was not until 1924, when Frederik Lunning opened a branch for Jensen in New York, that he became more widely known in the United States. Lunning introduced Americans to some of the most sought-after designers from Jensen’s pre-war years, including Sigvard Bernadotte, a Swedish prince, whose geometric and abstract designs marked a shift from Jensen’s Art Nouveau preferences.

Johan Rhode was another important early Jensen designer. His mathematically rigorous forms have been described as serene and sensitive, a logic-driven counterpoint to Jensen’s na...

Although Lunning was one of the company’s greatest champions, he was also briefly one of its most troubling competitors. Silver shortages in Denmark during World War II had prompted Jensen designers to create a line called jernsølv, which means iron silver. To save their precious reserves of scarce silver, they used patinated iron for the body of a piece, with silver or gold as an inlay.

Lunning responded to the 1940s silver shortage in Copenhagen in an entirely different way: He hired designers such as Laurence Foss, Alphone La Paglia, and Joan Polsdorfer to create pieces for a new company called Georg Jensen U.S.A. This made the folks back in Copenhagen none too happy. Indeed, they disavowed any association with the American line, and from 1945-1951 marked their pieces "Georg Jensen & Wendel A/S Denmark" to ensure that the separation was abundantly clear to customers.

In fairness to Lunning, he was not the only one trying to profit from the Jensen name and the silver shortages across the pond. Even vintage costume jewelry company Coro got into the act, making cheap, die-stamped copies of Jensen designs.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Georg Jensen Denmark Sterling Silver Cufflinks 08 Tie Bar B52,orig. BoxVintage Solid Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Cufflinks Design No 38 Fabulous1964 Vintage Hallmarked Solid Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Gjltd Bangle BraceletVintage 1930s Georg Jensen Pin Brooch Sterling Silver Birds Wheat #250 Denmark1970 Vintage Hallmarked Solid Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Gjltd Bangle BraceletGeorg Jensen-chopard Mechanical Movement- Luc - Watch Stainless Steel - VintageVintage Solid Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Funky Ring Design No 91 FabulousGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Nanna Ditzel Design Surf Bracelet #432 Denmark RareGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Art Deco Enamel Crown Badge 1870 1940 BroochVtg 50s Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Henning Koppel Amoeba Boomerang CufflinksGeorg Jensn Pin Denmark Sterling 925 Broach Brooch #28 Good, Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Pendant Design Number 1997,Georg Jensen CufflinksVintage Georg Jensen Denmark 120 Sterling Silver Modernist Ring,5 1/2Georg Jensen Style Brooch Pin Lapis Lazuli Sterling Silver Antique 925 Silver Good Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Pair Of Earrings Design Number 142,Beautiful Classic Georg Jensen Style Sterling Necklace By L.mathiesen 1 X Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Bull CufflinkA Stylish 1/5 9ct R.g Georg Jensen BangleVery Beautiful 9ct Gold George Jensen Crucifix Pendant - Rare - L@@kA Stunning 18ct Gold Georg Jensen Diamond Solitare Ring (.33ct)Vintage Georg Jensen Design Avon Sterling Silver Tulip Wrap Ring Spain Large Georg Jensen Double Sided Silver St Christopher Pendant (60005)Vintage Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Ltd Modernist Feather Brooch B1Vintage Sterling Silver - Georg Jensen Denmark Torun 14g - Bracelet (6") As661Georg Jensen Denmark Sterling Silver 925 Modernist Earrings 190 (2726)Georg Jensen Men's Silver Cuff Links- Denmark-large Oval Egg Shape #121Sterling Silver - 1982 Georg Jensen Franklin Mint 16g - Ring (9) Mens As839Vintage Georg Jensen Hematite / Black Onyx Sterling Silver Ring Size 7 1/2Georg Jensen Brooch # 300 Sterling Silver Flying Duck ~ 1940's Very Rare !Vintage Georg Jensen Denmark Stelring Pin By Anna & Jorgen DitzelVintage Georg Jensen Denmark Stelring Pin By Anna & Jorgen DitzelVintage 1940s Georg Jensen Wendel 50 Copenhagen Sterling Silver Bracelet Rare! Georg Jensen Ladies' Watch # 323 Vivianna Oval Black - Swiss MadeGeorg Jensen Silver Dove / Bird Brooch / Pin # 320 Vintage Oval Georg Jensen Silver St. Christopher.Authentic Georg Jensen 18k Rose Gold Fusion Ring End Piece Size 50 (us 5)Georg Jensen Fusion Ring 18k Yellow & White GoldVintage Georg Jensen Danish Design Modernist 925 Silver Slice Earrings (255)Vintage Georg Jensen Silver St. Christopher.925 Sterling Silver Vintage Tulip Ladies Bypass Ring Size 8 Georg Jensen AvonChristian X Of Denmark Georg Jensen Buttonhole Pin 1945Old Georg Jensen Hand Wrought Sterling Silver Brooch / Pin With LocketVintage Georg Jensen Ltd Silver & Enamel St. Christopher Bracelet Charm Georg Jensen Brooch #239 Designed By Arno Malinowski 1933-1944