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    

Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Bracelet, 1933-19441930's Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Ring #1Rare Old Georg Jensen / Koppel Sterling Silver BraceletGeorg Jensen Gj 9ct Gold Solid Seal Animal Ruby Eyes Ball Pearl On Nose Charm Vintage Georg Jensen Aa 236 Floral Blue-green Stone Sterling Silver BroochGeorg Jensen Puzzle Bangle Brand New 925 SilverVintage Georg Jensen Denmark Torun Sterling Silver Mobius #206 Bangle Bracelet Georg Jensen #309. Sterling Brooch By Arno Malinowski. No ReserveGeorg Jensen Mobius Bangle Brand New Size Medium 925 SilverSilver Georg Jensen CufflinksRare Old Georg Jensen / Koppel Sterling Silver BroochGeorg Jensen Men's Chronograph 317 Modern Luxury Dress Watch Black Leather BandGeorg Jensen 250 Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Deco Pin Brooch Figural Birds WheatStunning Georg Jensen Denmark Cufflinks In 18k Gold & Sterling Silver # 59a Georg Jensen - Shakudo Style Necklace & Pendant Arno Malinowski 14k & SterlingVintage Georg Jensen 925 Sterling Silver Bird Pin Brooch - DenmarkGeorg Jensen Cufflinks Denmark Sterling Silver Vintage 74bGeorg Jensen Sterling & Moonstone StickpinVintage Silver Georg Jensen Cuff Links And Tie ClipGeorg Jensen Denmark Sterling Silver Ring #95Vintage 1940's Georg Jensen Denmark 830 S Silver Pin Brooch Design #101 Gi MarkA 1960s Vintage Georg Jensen Solid Silver Double-sided St ChristopherGeorg Jensen Vintage Silver Bracelet With Alternating Chrysoprase StonesGeorg Jensen Vintage Sterling Silver BraceletGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Cufflinks #75b DenmarkGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Splash Brooch & Earring Henning Koppel 321 118 SetVintage Hallmarked Silver Georg Jensen St Christopher Pendant - 6.7g!Vtg Sterling Silver Bird Dove Brooch Pin Georg Jensen Design Denmark ~ Coro ?Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Gilded Enamel Daisy Brooch/pin & Earring Set W/ BoxHuge Vintage 1971 Double Sided Georg Jensen Solid Silver St Christopher 33.7gGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Single Earring Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling #110 Screwback EarringsVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Opening Shamrock Book CharmGeorg Jensen Necklace And Pendant . Leader And SilverGeorg Jensen Sterling Denmark Bar Cufflink Style No.64 Half Pair *1 Piece*Vintage Authentic Sterling Silver Signed Georg Jensen Brooch / Pin BeautifulVintage Georg Jensen Jewelry, Sterling Silver Pin, Signed, #100a Georg Jensen Jopol Sterling Brooch Denmark Joan Polsdorfer Mid Century ModernGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Oval Pin Brooch Design 101 Perfect Condition