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 18ct. 750 Gold Year 2000 Pendant W/ Moonstone On Chain 13 Grams"georg Jensen Sterling Silver Ring No.148" Denmark Circa 1960"georg Jensen Sterling Silver Pod Ring No.156" Denmark Circa 1970Vintage Silver Bangle By Georg Jensen With Full Import Marks For London 1991Rare Superb 1 Ounce Large Antique Vintage 9ct Gold Rg Cuff Bangle Georg JensenSterling Silver - Georg Jensen Denmark Bangle 25g - Bracelet (8") Ez832Georg Jensen Mobius Bangle Brand New Size Large 925 SilverVintage Georg Jensen Fern #112 Sterling Silver Clip On Earrings In Original BoxRare Georg Jensen Pansy Sterling Earrings Early Gi Mark 52Georg Jensen Hematite Sterling Silver Ring 46aGeorg Jensen Silver Cufflinks In Excellent Condition Old Vintage Antique Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Brooch Pin 477b Bb Georg Jensen Star Of David By Henning Koppel #148 Original RareGeorg Jensen #190 Sterling Silver EarringsGeorg Jensen ϼGeorg Jensen ϼGeorg Jensen Puzzle Bangle Brand New 925 SilverSuperb 1950's Georg Jensen Gold Nephrite Brooch.henning Koppel ?Georg Jensen #a10 Sterling Silver Bangle 22.0gramsGeorg Jensen Designed By Andreas Mikkelse Bangle Brand New 925 SilverVintage Georg Jensen 10k Gold And Dark Green Jade RingGeorg Jensen ϼGeorg Jensen Infinity Sterling Silver Necklace Georg Jensen ϼGeorg Jensen #46b Sterling Silver Hematite RingSterling Silver - Georg Jensen Denmark Franklin Mint - Ring (7.75) Mens Jl2501Very Beautiful Georg Jensen No 88 Cuff Links By Henning Koppel - SterlingGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Heart Brooch Or Pin #242bVintage Georg Jensen Design Avon Sterling Silver Tulip Wrap RingBeautiful Danish Knud Georg Jensen Art Nouveau Silver & Amber Bar Brooch - KgjGeorg Jensen Pair Sterling Silver Earrings 50a ScrewbackGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelet-design 237b!1970 Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet Old London Slave Bangle9ct Gold Georg Jensen Vintage 1970's Bangle Bracelet Hinged 14.8 GVintage Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Ltd Drop Pendant #3p34Vintage Georg Jensen Silver Bible Charm With Unfolding Old Testament 2.9gGeorge Jenson Silver Brooch-#20Georg Jensen Silver Pendant Of The Year 1998 New In BoxGorgeous Authentic Georg Jensen Silver Tiger Eye Cufflinks (44h)Georg Jensen Fish Marked Sterling Embossed Figural Scened Wide Cuff BraceletVintage Early Retro Georg Jensen Cufflinks Cuff Links Pair Of Pewter32" Puffed Heart Sterling Silver Necklace Reproduction Of Georg Jensen PieceVintage George Jensen Sterling Silver Earrings Designed By Georg JensenGeorg Jensen Denmark Sterling Lamb Pin # 311Georg Jenssen Sterling Silver Heart Brooch Or Pin #242b