Georg Jensen is both the name of Denmark's famous silversmith and the company he founded. World-renowned for flatware, hollowware, and jewelry, pieces by Jensen are sought after by collectors and can be priced to reflect that demand.
Georg Jensen was born in 1866. After trying his hand at goldsmithing, sculpture, and pottery, he found his niche in silversmithing and opened his Copenhagen shop in 1904. Within a year, his work was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen and his popularity catapulted. In fact, business was so successful Jensen had to close shop periodically because he was out of inventory.
Jensen was Denmark's leading designer during the Skonvirke period. This period of design, during the early 20th century, had various national names: Arts and Crafts Movement in the U.S., Art Nouveau in France, and Jungenstil in Germany.
Georg Jensen took inspiration from nature. His designs, especially the early ones, were unlike anything previously seen. The work, and the work of those who copied him, was distinct and referred to as the Jensen Style.
As popularity of Jensen designs grew, so did the production of his jewelry lines. Jewelry was less expensive to produce than flatware and hollowware and sold at a lower price point making Jensen designs available to a broader clientele.
Jensen jewelry was most often made of silver and sometimes accented with semi-precious stones such as malachite, moonstone, and amber. This was in contrast to the jewelry being produced in Norway which was usually silver with enamel.
Europe was in economic crisis during the 1920s so Jensen sent one of his designers to New York where a shop was opened on Fifth Avenue. Initially inventory was imported from Denmark but as the war years drew closer, exports ceased and American designers were hired to produce products for the U.S. store.
In its almost 100 years of operation, there have been close to 100 designers under the umbrella of Georg Jensen. Many of these designers have their own hallmarks stamped on pieces in addition to the Jensen hallmarks.
In 1985, the Gerog Jensen company was purchased by Royal Copenhagen and in 2012, Investcorp, a concern located in Bahrain, purchased it. Production continues and new designs can be found by googling.
Vintage pieces are harder to find, but they are available. My focus is on jewelry. Vintage Jensen jewelry is found at flea markets and collectibles shows, through on-line auctions, and from antique shops.
During the years around WW II, silver production was curtailed and Jensen designed pieces using anodized iron.
The Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Maker's Marks offers a handy graphic about dating Jensen pieces. Also, there is a list of many of the associated silversmith's hallmarks. To see these useful tools, just click here.
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