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    

Vtg Georg Jensen Denmark 925 Sterling Silver Link Chain Bracelet 54g 7.5"Rare Large Georg Jensen Sterling Silver / Moonstone? Drop EarringsRare Large Art Nouveau Fish Georg Jensen Silver / Agate Cufflinks.Rare Extra Large Oval Georg Jensen Silver /moonstone? Cufflinks.Rare Large Art Nouveau Owl Georg Jensen Silver / Agate Cufflinks. Old Stamps!Rare Large Art Nouveau Georg Jensen Silver / Coral Cufflinks.Vintage Original Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Brooch Pin & Matching Earrings SetRare Monumental Art Nouveau Georg Jensen Silver / Green Chrysoprase Cufflinks.Georg Jensen Sterling Silver And Turquoise Pin / Brooch 107 Beautiful! DenmarkVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Bird Brooch & Matching Earrings SetVictorian English Georg Jensen Heart Lock Nuvo Stanhope Charm Bracelet 112.3 Gr.Vintage Georg Jensen Floral Motif Brooch Pin 159 Art Nouveau DenmarkRare Large Art Nouveau Georg Jensen Silver / Coral Double Cufflinks.Rare Large Georg Jensen Sterling Silver / Amethyst Beaded Cufflinks.Rare Large Georg Jensen / Astrid Fog Sterling Silver Earrings UnmarkedRare Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver & Lapis Lazuli Earrings Denmark 23Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Dove / Bird Brooch Original Great Pin Early Georg Jensen 826s Silver Brooch # 84 1909-1914 Mark Ex. Cond. No ReserveVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Denmark Bangle Bracelet Stamped 51 A #j26Georg Jensen Silver Bangle Torun 440 DenmarkVtg Georg Jensen Signed Gilded Sterling Enamel Necklace, Brooch, Earrings SetGeorg Jensen Gi Mark #11b Sterling Ring Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Set Of 3 Rings And 1 Pin No ReserveAntique Vintage Rare Gj Ltd Georg Jensen St Christopher Travel Fob Charm PendantGeorg Jensen Denmark #239 Sterling Silver Heart Dove Bird Olive Leaf Brooch Pin Small Sterling Silver Dove Brooch Georg Jensen Design English HallmarksEarly Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Ladies Charm / Pendant DenmarkVintage Georg Jensen Inc Sterling Silver Tulip Flower Design 100 A Brooch Pin Sterling Silver Georg Jenson RingRare Georg Jensen Sterling Silver / Henning Koppel Designed BroochStunning Ornate Vintage Silver Georg Jensen Gj Ltd St Christopher & 925 ChainGeorg Jensen Uno 100 Anniversary Sterling Silver Pendant 925s Denmark Claw ToothVintage Solid Silver Modernist Georg Jensen ? Link Charm Style Bracelet BangleAntique Mark Georg Jensen La Paglia 925 #145 Bud Leaf Earrings #140 Bracelet 83gGeorg Jensen # 102 Sterling Earrings Georg Jensen Vintage 1933-1944 Sterling Silver Single Earring #74Vintage Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Passport CharmRare Large Double Sided Georg Jensen Silver London 1972 St Christopher & ChainGeorg Jensen Art Deco Sterling Silver Screwback Functionalist Earrings 92denmarkSterling Silver - Georg Jensen Denmark Leaf #391 Modernist 27.3g - Brooch Cj2572Very Large Rare Vintage Hm 1966 Silver Double Sided Georg Jensen St Christopher Georg Jensen Vintage Sterling Silver St Christopher Fob Medal Pendant NecklaceVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Enamel King Christian Pin Brooch (z017)1960's Vintage Georg Jensen 925 Sterling Silver Floral Brooch Pin Denmark Signed Jorgen Jensen Modern Design Norway Son Of Georg Jenson Pewter PinVintage 10.4 Grams 7 Inch Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Padlock Charm BraceletGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Pendant Of The Year 2000 Silver Ball DenmarkRare Modernist Jopol Joan Polsdorfer Georg Jensen Usa Sterling Silver Brooch 592Georg Jensen Danish Design Rare Artist Earrings Of 2007 925 Silver New Unused*new* Georg Jensen Daisy Necklace - Sterling Silver With Enamel