Georg Jensen was born 1866 near Copenhagen; he was from a working-class family and had little formal schooling, however, at the age of 14 he became an apprentice to a goldsmith. His real love was sculpture, which he went on to study at Copenhagen’s Royal Academy of Art. After graduating, Jensen was unable to make a living as a sculptor and set up a pottery studio. His work was successful enough to allow him to travel in France and Italy, where he was influenced by the currently-fashionable Art Nouveau style. On returning to Copenhagen, he took a job with a silversmith.
Jensen set up his own shop in Copenhagen in 1904. Although he later became famous for his flatware (cutlery) and hollowware (bowls, jugs, tea sets), he started off making small pieces of jewellery as he couldn’t afford large stocks of silver. His jewellery work, which included brooches, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, was heavily influenced by organic shapes such as leaves, flowers and fruit. He also incorporated ivory and semi-precious stones into some pieces.
Jensen died in 1935, but his company has gone from strength to strength and now has retail outlets in over a dozen countries worldwide. On his death in 1935, the New York Herald called Georg Jensen ‘the greatest silversmith of the last 300 years'. He was enormously influential both in his own right and through the team of designers he worked with, and pieces from all periods are popular. His personal philosophy was that each piece should be both beautiful and functional, which gives his work a timeless appeal. Especially sought after are mixed media pieces made from silver and precious stones or ivory.
A great attraction of the Georg Jensen jewellery range is the number of styles available under the influence of the company’s different designers. From Arts and Crafts to Neo-Classical, there’s something to appeal to every collector, with each piece retaining an overall unifying Georg Jensen feel. Some enthusiasts focus on collecting the work of a specific designer, and each piece should carry an individual mark according to who made it. The most sought after is Georg Jensen’s own work from around 1905 to 1914.
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