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 Enchantedlearning.com, 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    

Authentic~georg Jensen~"moonlight Grape"~96a~1945~sterling Silver~necklaceGeorg Jensen Moonlight Blossom Hammered Sterling & Royal Blue Cabochon NecklaceGeorg Jensen Silver Chain Vintage Necklace. 105 B***vintage Georg Jensen Danish Sterling Silver Grape 217 A Brooch - Denmark***Heavy (120g) - Silver 925 - Ladies - Hans Hansen - Bracelet - For Georg Jensen Art Deco Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Bird Brooch 309-danish Modern-ex!-nr!Authentic~georg Jensen~"moonlight Grape"~96~sterling Silver~link BraceletRare Large Georg Jensen Silver / Moonstone? Drop EarringsGeorg Jensen Denmark Henning Koppel Sterling Silver Brooch Pin..no Reserve***vintage Georg Jensen Danish Silver Dolphin No. 317 Brooch - Denmark***Modernist Designer Georg Jensen Regitze Overgaard Sterling Silver Cuff BraceletGeorg Jensen Stirling Silver Splash PendantGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Denmark Fish Pin Brooch 7.1g #8601Mid Century Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Abstract Brooch 321-danish Modern-ex-nr*vintage Georg Jensen Danish Silver Dolphin No. 129 Clip On Earrings - Denmark*Rare Large Georg Jensen Silver / Amethyst Cufflinks.Georg Jensen Stirling Silver Zephyr Pendant With ChainSterling Silver - Georg Jensen Denmark #224b Leafy 4.7g - Brooch Wr9641Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Earrings #130 Denmark Nana Ditzel DesignBeautiful Georg Jensen Silver Necklace, Classic DesignVintage Georg Jensen 1940s Retro Deco Sterling Silver Flower 132 Pin Brooch, Nr!Georg Jensen Stirling Silver Infinity Pendant With ChainAuthentic~georg Jensen~71~sterling Silver~flower RingA Good And Unusual Sterling Silver, Boxed Georg Jensen Necklace: Large Vintage Georg Jensen Solid Silver Locket Floral Decoration London 1974Georg Jensen Cufflinks Model# 54 - Sterling DenmarkGeorg Jensen Cufflinks Model# 75a - Sterling DenmarkBeautiful Georg Jensen Silver Necklace, Classic Flower Design With StoneVtg 1942-49 Georg Jensen Jo Pol 247 Windswept Fuschia Sterling Silver EarringsStunning Vintage Silver Double Sided Georg Jensen St Christopher & 925 ChainGeorg Jensen Mid-century Sterling Cuff Links, Denmark-w/boxRare Vintage Georg Jensen St Christopher Silver Charm With Small 15 Inch Chain18k 18kt Yg Georg Jensen Yellow Gold Ring Marquis Azurmalachite Stamped 75018k 18kt Yg Georg Jensen Yellow Gold Ring Marquis Azurmalachite Stamped 750Georg Jensen 336 Stainless Steel Bangle Watch - 2" DiameterVintage Georg Jensen Denmark Kneeling Deer Sterling Silver Pin BroochGeorg Jensen Regitze Cufflinks Sterling Silver With 18k Gold 463 Brand New $480 Georg Jorgen Jensen Denmark Pewter Cat Necklace 188Rare Large Vintage 1969 Silver Double Sided Georg Jensen St Christopher & ChainGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Slip On Bracelet2001 Georg Jensen Silver Annual Pendant With Amber Rare Vintage Georg Jensen Usa Flower Sterling Bracelet Georg Jensen Style Antique Sterling Silver Doves Lovebirds Brooch Pendant 1940's