Though Scandinavia has produced distinctive jewelry at least since the time of the Vikings, the region’s unique industry didn’t come into its own until the late 19th century. Prior to this time, jewelry from the four Scandinavian countries—Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland—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, 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    

L@@k! Vintage N.e. From Denmark Sterling Silver Blue Agate Modernist PinGeorg Jensen Diamond 18kt Gold Fusion Double Puzzle Ring, Sz 8.5, Pre-owned, Nr!Vintage Rey Urban Modernist Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet Bangle 1969 SwedenVintage Tone Vigeland Norway Sterling Silver PendantSterling Silver - Georg Jensen Denmark Lapis Owl 58 11.7g - Screw-back EarringsSterling Silver - Tone Vigeland Norway Modernist 5.8g - Dangle Earrings Xn6942Anna Greta Eker Norway Vintage Sterling Silver Mid Century Modern Ball Ring Sterling Silver - Norway Tone Vigeland Modernist 8.2g - Pendant Xi7042Vintage Rey Urban Modernist Sterling Silver Chain Link Necklace 1977 SwedenDavid Andersen Norway Sterling Silver Enamel Spinner Pendant 23.9gBracelet Sterling Anna Greta Eker Age Plus Norway Tapered Tri Ball Modern 7.25"Sterling Silver - Tone Vigeland Norway Modernist 4.6g - Dangle Earrings Xn2362Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Amber 2001 Year Pendant NecklaceBrooch, Silver Enamelled, Georg JensenSterling Silver - Norway Designer Modernist 8.1g - Post Earrings Xn2622Finn Jensen Vtg Norway Sterling 925 Enamel Owl PinOystein Balle Norway Vintage Modernist Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Earrings StarDavid Andersen Norway Sterling Silver Guilloche Enamel Butterfly Pin Brooch BlueNinex Korut Vintage 1980’s Sterling Silver & Crystal Bangle, Finland, 9.3 G5 Day Nice Pr Blue Enamel 925 Sterling Norway H In Circle Butterfly EarringsBeautiful Rare Vintage David Anderson Norway Sterling 925 Blue Enamel Bracelet Danish Art Deco Bernard Hertz 830s Sterling Silver Bangle BraceletNinex Korut Vintage 1980’s Sterling Silver & Crystal Ring, Finland, 2.4 GRare Vintage Georg Jensen Ring No.a.120Authentic Georg Jensen Square Dangle Earrings Sterling Silver 1.5" LongVintage C1930 Solid Silver Scandinavian / English Enamelled Butterfly BroochVintage Sterling Silver - Norway Designer Modernist 29.9g - Pendant Xp2052Superb Vintage Astrid Fyrbo Danish 1970's Modernist; Hand Crafted Pottery BroochLadies Fine Retro Eggert Sterling Silver 925s Denmark Flora Danica Brooch Pin NrGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver 2001 Year PendantVintage 1970s Rey Urban Sterling Silver Flower Ring 1973 SwedenGeorg Jensen Sterling Silver Hand Wrought Brooch Pin UsaVintage Sterling Dgh Dansk Guldsmede Handvaerk Guilloche Enamel Flower BroochNorwegian Norsk Folkemuseum Modernist Sterling Silver Pin Brooch David Andersen Red Guilloche Enamel On Sterling By David Anderson Of Norway Vintage Georg Jensen Silver St Christopher Pendant - George JensonVintage Norway Ivar T Holth Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Guilloche Sail Boat PinKvk Vintage 1980’s Sterling Silver & Crystal Earrings, Studs, Finland, 1.8 GOld Midcentury Solje Norway Ornate Sterling Silver Crown Heart Dangle Disc PinLadies Designer Signed Modernist 925 S Sterling Silver Finland Ring Sz 11.75 NrVintage Sterling Silver - Kalevala Koru Finland Modernist 8.9g - Pendant Xz1172Lovely Georg Jensen Silver Knot Bracelet Very Stylish With BoxRare! Hans Hansen Sterling Silver 925 Pin Brooch Denmark 1960'sVtg~georg Jensen~denmark~sterling~silver~925~pin~brooch~#110~old Hallmark StampsVintage Sterling Silver - Anton Michelsen Denmark 12g - Clip-on Earrings Xg0492Vintage Hans Hansen Denmark Sterling Silver Earring- Single As IsMassive Danish Mid-century Modernist Amethyst Druzy Silver Cuff Bracelet~148 G!Hermann Siersbo Hs Danish Sterling Silver Flower Necklace Stunning!Vintage N E From Sterling Silver Amber Ring Size 6Vintage Sterling Silver Heart Pin, Norway J.aSterling Silver - Finland Kultateollisuus Ky Turku 12.5g - Clip-on EarringsEar Cuffs - Sterling Plus Norway Tone Vigeland DesignHeavy Large! Herman Siersbol Vintage Sterling Silvedr Choker Necklace 54 Grams!Antique J Tostrup Solid Silver Gilt Filigree Brooch Pin 1873 NorwaySterling Silver - Norway Crest Enamel Shield 1.4g - Charm Pendant Xf0472Vintage Sigmund Espeland Snorre .925 Sterling Silver Viking Design BroochSterling Silver - Denmark Little Mermaid Sculpture 6.4g - Charm Pendant Xi7982Modernist Erik Granit Of Finland Ring With Unusual Large Gem Stone Size 6Vintage 830 Silver Ship Pin Sweden KaPin - Sterling Tone Vigeland Plus Norway