Though the Scandinavian region has produced distinctive jewelry since at least the time of the Vikings, the area’s jewelry industry didn’t come into its own until the late 19th century. Prior to this time, jewelry from the three Scandinavian countries—Denmark, Norway, and Sweden—drew primarily on early Nordic traditions. Heavily embellished bracelets, rings, and pendants featured complex knotted designs showcasing symbolic animals and signs. These pieces emphasized their metal materials, particularly silver, with limited gemstone and pearl decoration.

Near the turn of the 20th century, Scandinavian artisans looked to indigenous craft-oriented arts to inform their designs. Norway distinguished itself in the enameled metal arts, and firms like J. Tostrup, Marius Hammer, and David-Andersen adapted the basse-taille and plique-à-jour techniques for jewelry production. Most of these enameled pieces reflected the reigning Art Nouveau trends of bright colors and densely layered floral shapes.

In Denmark, the Arts and Crafts movement was known as skønvirke, or “beautiful work,” and its jewelry makers relied heavily on a sculptural quality achieved through repoussage or chasing. Skønvirke pieces were typically made in silver, sometimes set with cabochons of precious stones, and relied on motifs of flowers or birds like the concurrent Art Nouveau style.

Danish designer Evald Nielsen fashioned stunning skønvirke pieces with jewels set into floral-shaped bezels, creating the illusion that the gems were emerging like the buds of flowers. Many major Danish manufacturers like Bernhard Hertz and Hans Hansen commissioned their designs from independent artists like Nielsen, using skilled silversmiths to reproduce original pieces on a larger scale.

Possibly the most famous Danish jewelry designer is Georg Jensen, who opened his own studio in 1904 in Copenhagen after working for silversmith Mogens Ballin. Jensen was highly influenced by the natural forms of the Arts and Crafts style, and his creations typically featured graceful silver shapes with limited ornamentation. Jensen hired other well-respected designers like Gabrielson Pederson, Sigvard Bernadotte, Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel, Harald Nielsen, Henning Koppel, and Arno Malinowski to create designs for his firm.

Material shortages during the two world wars pushed Scandinavian designers to experiment with other materials such as ceramics, glass, iron, and bronze, reserving silver and gold for inlays or settings. A popular style pioneered by Arno Malinowski for Jensen’s studio was the jernsølv or “iron silver” series, which involved silver inlay designs on a patinated iron background inspired by Japanese artwork. In Finland, a Nordic nation that's not properly Scandinavian, Kalevala Koru developed replicas of jewelry designs unearthed in ancient tombs, and the combination of ornamental tradition and nationalist pride made the company an instant success. Kalevala Koru’s imitation of the Iron Age creations also reignited a Scandinavian interest in bronze jewelry.

As the ornate styling of the pre-war period waned, enameled silver was adapted for more contemporary purposes by Norwegian designers like Bjørn Sigurd Østern and Grete Prytz Kitt...

The shift towards affordable designs made for commercial consumption following World War II led Scandinavian designers to simplify forms and adopt the cleaner lines of modernism. Swede Wiwen Nilsson’s designs relied on basic geometry to create precise pieces, including earrings in flat silver hexagons or cufflinks made from rectangular crystals. Tapio Wirkkala, famous for his glassware sets produced by Finnish company Iittala during the '50s and '60s, also developed modernist jewelry with clean, geometric forms like the “Silver Moon Suite,” a demi-parure featuring dangling pendants made from concentric silver circles. Others like Tone Vigeland, one of Norway’s most famous designers, opted to work exclusively with metals to develop her gently curving silver bangles and curled “Sling” earrings.

Meanwhile, long-held Scandinavian ideals of social and economic democracy were brought in line with the region’s artistic production. The “H55” exhibition held in Hälsinborg, Sweden in 1955 represented the nexus of this thinking, as it focused on the role of applied arts in the individual home and its effects on wider egalitarianism. Like the earlier Arts and Crafts movement, modern Scandinavian style was characterized by a return to organic forms and an appreciation for the innate qualities of specific materials. For example, Elis Kauppi, founder of the Kupittaan Kulta company in Finland, began featuring regional materials like spectrolite (also known as labradorite) set into simple circle or square forms.

Increased exposure from the Italian Triennale exhibitions of the 1950s led other Finnish designers to experiment with more avant-garde styling. Björn Weckström helped establish the Lapponio workshop with his cast-metal jewelry, which sometimes incorporated plastics. Weckström’s popularity was cemented after Yoko Ono wore a silver and acrylic ring by the designer on the Dick Cavett show, and shortly thereafter his aptly named “Galactic Tops” necklace was chosen as part of Princess Leia’s costume in “Star Wars.”

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 Jewel History blog have been treated to her weekly (someti… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

David Andersen Norway Mcm .925s Sterling Silver Enamel 7.25" Cuff Bracelet Hsl David Andersen Norway Mcm Sterling Silver Spinning Enamel Necklace Pendant Hsl Antique Swedish Sterling Silver & Seed & Pearl & Enamel 2 Photo Locket PendantDesigner Signed 14k Gold Danish Modernist Sputnik Multi Gemstone Ring Size 7 NrSolid Silver Norway Opro925s Enamelled Butterfly BroochRare Large Art Nouveau Georg Jensen Silver Necklace / Pendant # 10Rare Art Nouveau Georg Jensen Silver Necklace / Pendant With Chrysoprase # 65Sterling 925 Norway Enamelled Butterfly BroochSterling Silver .925 Blue Lapis Cufflinks Signed David Andersen Norway Nr!!Frisenberg Of Lillehammer 830s Sterling Silver 2.5" Diameter Pin Brooch Lsk NrVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Brooch 342 Designed By Henning KoppelAnna Greta Eker Pendant Sterling Silver Chain Necklace Norway Carnelian Stone Sterling Silver - Turun Hopea Finland Lucky Number 13 Modernist - Ring (7.25)Vintage Georg Jensen Silver BangleScandinavian Sterling Silver Earrings Blue Enamel Butterfly Signed Kh 925 NorwayN.e. From Denmark Sterling Silver Danish Modernist Amber Clip On Earrings Rtg NrVtg Signed N.e. From Sterling Silver Denmark Baltic Amber Floral Brooch Pin RtgAksel Holmsen Modernist Norwegian Sterling & Enamel Necklace & Earring SetGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver 925 Grape Brooch #217a DenmarkVintage Sterling Silver Amethyst Two-tone Brooch/ Earrings Modernist Set~signed!N.e. From- Denmark- Modernist Green Chalcedony Sterling Bar Link 18" NecklaceGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Moonlight Blossom Pin Brooch Denmark# 283Danish Sterling Silver Leaf Brooch, Made By Just Andersen, 1964Vintage Thune Norway Sterling Silver & Blue Enamel Leaf PinSweden Modern Aqua Enamel Sterling Silver Vintage Clip-on EarringsKalevala Koru Vintage 1960’s Xxl Bronze Cloak Pin, Brooch, Finland, 26 GVolmer Bahner Vb Denmark Sterling Silver Enamel Bracelet Purple VintageVtg Denmark G1 154 925 Sterling Silver Floral PinVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Modernist Clam Brooch W/obsidian "pearl"Gorgeous "hans Hansen" Sterling Silver Pendant NecklaceDavid Andersen Enamel Sterling Rock Carving Pin Brooch.Vintage Sterling Silver White Enamel Necklace By Ivar T Holt NorwayGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Tulip And Berry Motif Earrings, # 106Vintage David Andersen Sterling Silver Blue Enameled Wave Bracelet (al) (s)Vtg Modernist Studio Enamel Fused Glass Panel Bracelet Kay Denning Era 7 3/4" NrVintage Aksel Holmsen Norway Enameled Sterling Silver Viking Ship Pin BroochGorgeous Vintage Sterling Silver And Enamel Pin By Finn Jensen - Norway - 925sVintage Einar Modahl Sterling Silver White Enamel Round Circle Pin Brooch NorwayGrandmas Estate Rare Norway Bernard Meldahl Enamel Sterling Silver BroochDavid-andersen Norway 925s Sterling Enamel Guilloche Pin Brooch--repair NeededSterling Silver - Aarre & Krogh Eftf Denmark Leaves 8g - Clip-on Earrings Cy1973David Andersen Vintage Norwegian Sterling Silver And Enamel Pendant And NecklaceVintage David Andersen Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Leaf Bracelet 7 1/4 Long.N.e. From- Denmark- Modernist Sterling Curved Bar Link Bracelet 6.5" Real Nice !Adorable Norway 925s Sterling Enamel Mid-century Modern Clip Earrings-nr!Vintage Georg Jensen #31 Sterling Silver Pendant DenmarkVintage Niels Erik From 830s Silver Denmark CufflinksDanish Modern N.e. From Sterling Silver Honey Amber Cabochon Clip Earrings Hsl Vintage Guilloch Enamel Sterling Cloisonne Pin Art Deco Lotus FlowerSterling Silver - Enamel Sweden Crest 3.7g - Charm Pendant Cq8343Finnish Kultateollisuus Ky 1968 813 Silver Modernist Floral Pin Brooch3d Vintage Mid Century Jorgen Jensen Denmark Pewter Modernist Enamel Brooch PinSterling Silver - Carl Ove Frydensberg Denmark Leaves 5.4g - Brooch Da0153Carl Ove Frydensberg Cof Denmark Sterling Silver Viking Ship Cufflinks & TietackA. Som. Norway NecklaceVintage Erik Granit Finland Sterling Heart Shape Ring Size 6Georg Jensen 925s Denmark Sterling 925 Silver Double Dolphin Pin Brooch #317Grandmas Estate Hs Hermann Siersbol Denmark Sterling Silver BroochVintage David Andersen Sterling Enamel Butterfly Pin 925s Norway..beautiful!Vintage Volmer Bahner (vb) Denmark Sterling & Guilloche Enamel Link Bracelet