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 60s Georg Jensen Abstract Silver Brooch 342 Danish Henning KoppelGeorg Jensen - Sterling Poppy & Garnet - Rare - 65 - DenmarkA Vintage Georg Jensen Solid Silver Locket.Georg Jensen - Sterling Ammonite Cufflinks - Rare - 52 - DenmarkVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Denmark Cuff Bracelet Rare Georg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Brooch Pin W/ Birds Wheat # 250 DenmarkGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Cufflinks #91 DenmarkGeorg Jensen Moonstone Brooch By Vivianna Torun Bulow - Hube C1958 On So RareGeorg Jensen - Sterling Leaf Swirl Cufflinks - Rare - 65 - DenmarkGeorg Jensen, Oscar Gundlach Pedersen #51 Rare Vintage Silver Ring,1940'sSuperb Georg Jensen Sterling Silver & Cabochon Green Agate Earrings #85Vintage 9ct Gold 10 Shilling Note Pendant Or Charm By Georg Jensen Dated 1966Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Amoeba Brooch Pin #322 Henning KoppelVintage Georg Jensen Modernist Silver Cufflinks Copenhagen CastleVintage Sterling Silver Georg Jensen Charm Bracelet 50g 7 Charms & Heart LockGeorg Jensen Puzzle Bangle Brand New 925 SilverGeorg Jensen Danish Silver Dolphin Brooch Pin Scandinavian Jewellery BoxedA Very Good Sterling Silver Cast Georg Jensen Charm Bracelet . Vintage Sterling Silver Georg Jensen 343 Denmark Hk Fish Brooch/pinVintage Denmark Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Acorn Charm Dangle Pendant #42 OldGeorg Jensen Denmark 18k Yellow & White Gold Diamonds RingGeorg Jensen Smooth 168 Sterling Silver 925 Bracelet 7.75in (77.1g)Georg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Hoop Cuff Earrings #126 By Nanna DitzelGeorg Jensen Silver BroochGeorg Jensen Cufflinks 61a Sterling Silver Mid Century Modern No Reserve MensGeorg Jensen Puzzle Peak Brand New 925 Silver Size 60mm Vintage Georg Jensen Modernist Silver Cufflinks 800 Years CopenhagenMens Georg Jensen Victory Ring And PendantVintage 1910 Georg Jensen Sterling Lapis Ring Size 59ct Rolled Gold Georg Jensen Vintage 1970's Bangle Bracelet Heavy 41 G - 1.4 OzGeorg Jensen Sterling Cactus Brooch # 227 No Reserve !!Georg Jensen Denmark Sterling Silver Stud Earrings W/amethyst Cabs: VgcGeorg Jensen Vintage London Sterling Silver Large Locket & Chain + Safety ChainGeorg Jensen Silver Vintage Cufflinks In Excellent Condition A Sweet 9ct Gold Georg Jensen Diamond Solitaire Ring Georg Jensen Torun Ladies Watch Boxed (s) - Very Good ConditionGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 S Denmark 44b (6305)Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Splash Brooch Pin #321 Henning KoppelGeorg Jensen Silver Pendant - Heritage 1998Georg Jensen Denmark #77 Sterling Silver Vintage Marked Gi Pin BroochGeorg Jensen - Heritage Collection Amethyst Pendant - In Sterling SilverVintage Early Iconic Georg Jensen 925 S Sterling Denmark Dove Bird Brooch Pin Georg Jensen Denmark Earrings Snail Design Sterling Silver. Screw Back #92 B1/5th 9ct 9 Carat Yellow Rolled Gold Georg Jensen Bangle 25 GramsA Magnificent 9ct Gold Georg Jensen Aqua Marine And Cz Cluster RingMint 50's / 60's Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Dolphin #317 Brooch PinGeorg Jensen Sterling Denmark Silver Money Clip 9.4gVintage Georg Jensen Heavy 40g 1/5 9ct Rolled Gold Bracelet Bangle Hinged VgcVintage Sterling Grape & Leaf Unsigned Georg Jensen Design Brooch Pin R85Georg Jensen Sterling Denmark Earrings #113 Leaves Mid-century Modern Silver NrA Georg Jensen 9ct Gold St Christopher PendantVintage Georg Jensen Silver Charm Guitar GjltdGeorg Jensen Oyster Pendant In Solid Silver By Nana Ditzel Circa 1950's Danish$ Rare Modernist Georg Jensen 18k Gold Fusion Triple Stack Puzzle Stacking RingGeorg Jensen Ltd Sterling Silver St Christopher Small Pendant Engraved BorderA 1960s Georg Jensen Silver St. Christopher.A Vintage Georg Jensen Silver Double-sided St. Christopher.Sterling Silver St. Christopher Georg Jensen Pendant/charmGeorg Jensen Henning Koppel Mod Sterling Silver Brooch Pin Very Nice Pair Of Vintage Georg Jensen Sterling Earrings **great Holiday Gift**