Antique And Vintage Elegance

Antique and Vintage Elegance Jewellery Blog

Danish Arts and Crafts & the Beauty of Skonvirke Jewellery

Skonvirke (meaning graceful or beautiful work) was a Danish Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900’s. Born out of a desire to return to traditional craftsmanship – in contrast to the increasing mechanisation and mass-production of the late 19th Century, skonvirke jewellery was hand-made, unique, and exhibited the artist’s skill as a designer and metal worker.

Scandinavia has a very strong tradition of silversmithing and the aesthetic found fertile ground in the many talented artists keen to draw on tradition while developing their own unique style.

Antique 14ct Gold, Diamond Skonvirke RingAs a jewellery style, Skonvirke has significant overlap with Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil as it was known in northern Europe), based on flowing, organic forms inspired by nature. Pieces have a distinctly sculptural feel, often incorporating curling, plant-like tendrils, beads and other floral and foliate features.

The focus was very-much on shape and form, while gemstones were relegated to a supporting role – if present at all. Pieces that did incorporate gemstones often used semi-precious stones, their colour and patterning of greater importance than their inherent value. Malachite, carnelian and other agate hardstones; moonstone; coral; opal; mother of pearl; lapis; and amber were all popular choices, used sparingly but to great effect.

Outside of Scandinavia, Danish designer and silversmith Georg Jensen is perhaps the most well-recognised name associated with the skonvirke style. However, the Danish workshops of the early 20th century produced a wealth of artisanal jewellerymakers whose unique, beautiful, and very wearable pieces are highly sought after today by those familiar with Scandinavian jewellery. Evald Nielsen, Mogens Ballin, Bernard Hertz and C Mortensen (to name just a few!) were all active in the early 1900s, while later makers such as Niels Erik From and Viggo Wollny produced some stunningly beautiful work towards mid-century.

For those with an appreciation for hand-crafted, unique pieces, the timeless beauty and naturalistic style of Skonvirke jewellery will delight and inspire.

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