Viking Jewellery


History of Danish Jewellery

– a somewhat short version

Well you could say that Denmark has been making jewellery since forever, but that would be an unspecific and generalist statement. The early craftmanship style was of course influenced greatly by everyday objects, with very few gem embellishments and mostly made in silver – with an Old Nordic and Viking dominance.

So the earliest history of Danish jewellery is hard to pinpoint and generalisation has been rather common, as evidence and fact is very vague. As far as history goes Denmark was unfortunately too poor to have its owns jewellery craftsmanship and imported most of its gold or silver. The evolution of Danish jewellery making started as rather rudimentary with bone and amber – the latter is still wildly used due to the fact that some parts of the Danish coast are rich in amber (one of the oldest documented precious stones). Amber can still be found on both the west and east coast of Denmark, and tip to self – treasure hunting for amber is best after a storm.

The Royal family are the best contributors to the history of Danish jewellery due to the fact that purchasing and selling of their jewellery was well documented. Hurrah for the Danish Royal family, and with this said we can finally see an established Danish style of jewellery at the start of the 19th century.

We, of course, could just say that the rest was history because in our day and age Danish Jewellery Design is renown across all four corners of the world, and to name but a few:

  • Evald Nielsen was a silversmith and a long standing member of the Copenhagen Guild of Goldsmiths. He designed not only jewellery but ventured into silverware and cutlery. Evald Nielsen was an excellent craftsman who made quality silver and believed in the full training of his employees at his workshop. This certainly showed in his wholehearted engagement in the Guild which lasted from 1913 – 1948 and along with being the founder of the Union of Danish Goldsmith Masters in 1920. Evald Nielsen’s legacy can still be found today at Evald Nielsens Eftf.
  • Georg Jensen started off life as a son of a knife grinder whose dreams led him to become a goldsmith apprentice at Guldsmed Andersen and later developed into a passion to be a sculptor. In 1892 Georg Jensen graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and began exhibiting clay sculptures however making a living at it proved difficult. He then became a modeller at a porcelain factory and subsequently opened his own pottery workshop with a partner. Making a living at this was also difficult and he soon found himself apprenticing with Mogens Ballin and this inspiration took him as far as investing in his own silversmith workshop on Bredgade which now has become the Georg Jensen of today with the Amagertorv flagship in Copenhagen.
  • Ole Lynggaard is a goldsmith and designer. Very little is known about the origins of this man however his talent is certainly been passed on into the family run international business that started off in a small workshop in Copenhagen. Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen was established in 1963 and has gone on to be a luxury brand that was appointed Purveyor to the Danish Royal Court in 2008. Earthy, raw, delicate yet divine – this is jewellery at it’s best.
  • Shamballa Jewels was founded by the brothers Mads and Mikkel Kornerup – and yes I know I’m extremely biased but what the heck! They are what it means to make a dream come true. In 2001 Mads brought to life what we all now know as The Shamballa Bracelet, the company has grown in leaps and bounds – and gathered quite a star-studded following. They have expanded to include necklaces, rings, cufflinks and earrings – the designs are inspirational and sometimes downright infamously plagiarized. I say and quote Charles Caleb Colton “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!”.
  • Ladyfingers is Co-op at it’s best. Here we find an assemble of women that have one passion – jewellery making and design – you can understand why I have a soft spot for this! They all have different backgrounds and most started off in doing something other done jewellery. As I’ve said before when your creativity is boundless then it has to find the right muse. These women have come together to build a brand that is you, me and the everyday woman on the street. Why talk about luxury and high-end when you can have something that expresses who you are with it’s simplicity.

Danish jewellery brands are conquering the world – again to name but a few, we have Shamballa Jewels (one of my personal favourite brands), Ole Lynggaard (second favourite of mine), Georg JensenPandoraPilgrim, Skagen, Dyrberg Kern, Flora DanicaSTORY by Kranz & Ziegler, and Trollbeads. If you want to delve even deeper into to the very long list of talented Danish Jewellery designers you can start here at the Wonderful Copenhagen Tourist website (Visit Copenhagen) – it’s a wealth of amazing information about Denmark and all things Danish.

March 2015

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