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If you take a walk through central Copenhagen, down Strøget or a hip shopping street like Strædet, you will notice a surprising number of jewellery stores as well as jewellery displays in fashion shops alongside tables of bags and other accessories. Denmark has a proud jewellery tradition spanning decades and boasts some big names, such as Georg Jensen. But like the fashion business, new talent is making waves.

“Jewellery used to be something that women longed for as a present, but today they buy it themselves,” says fashion publisher Malene Malling. She believes what is going on with jewellery is perhaps the most interesting part of the Copenhagen design story.

“There is so much to choose from right now,” she says. “I think part of the explanation is our democratic approach to life, that the designers simply create jewellery they would like to wear themselves. And right now we are lucky to have a lot of talent.” At the exclusive end of the scale, Georg Jensen, which has been making iconic silver and gold jewellery since the brand was founded more than 100 years ago, continues to introduce new modern and sculptural collections. Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen is another label that never ceases to create luxury jewellery for every woman, whether she likes her accessories modern or feminine.

Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen was one of three nominees for Jewellery Brand of the Year at the 2015 Elle Style Awards. The prize ended up going to Danish-Israeli Orit Elhanati for her unique “Scandinavia meets the Middle East” aesthetic, but designer Charlotte Lynggaard took home the prize for Style Icon of the Year. The title was awarded not just for her jewellery but for her “extremely sound and perfect blend of the pure Nordic and adventurous Asian to a timeless modern style”.

Other jewellery brands strive to offer affordable luxury, echoing back again to that Danish-industry adage “fashion for all”. Decades ago, Dyrberg/Kern was one of the first jewellery brands to move the coveted accessories out of the look-but-don’t-touch shops to inside fashion stores. Considering the pure aesthetics of Danish fashion, jewellery can often make a big difference in expressing one’s personality, so it’s important prices aren’t out of reach.

Trendsetting jewellery brands to watch range from Sophie Bille Brahe, who, according to Malling, is an inspiration to many designers; to punk-influenced Maria Black; and Katrine Kristensen, whose playful earrings are worn by such fashion icons as Lady Gaga. The saying Danish fashion is for everyone might not be strictly true, but the design scene is certainly not minimalistic anymore – it’s bursting at the seams.

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Great Dane

In an age where quantity so often wins out over quality, it’s refreshing to slip an Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen “Lotus” ring onto my finger. The sphere of polished red coral at its centre was picked by hand and the band itself moulded and etched by a single artisan. Although there are others similar, this ring – in materials and markings – is completely individual.

“No two pieces are alike,” says Søren Lynggaard, the company’s CEO since 2003. “Craftsmanship is everything.”

Established by Danish jeweller Ole Lynggaard in 1963, the company revolves around family. Søren, Ole’s son, began working for his father in a production role before moving to his current position; his wife Hanna works in sales; his sister Charlotte is one of the company’s two designers (the other being Ole himself); and Charlotte’s husband Michel Normann is CCO. “Over the last 10 years, we have grown a lot. There’s a belief in Danish companies,” says Søren, who has seen the brand branch out from Denmark to more than 20 countries, including New Zealand as well as Australia – home to the company’s first flagship boutique outside Europe.

The CEO’s enthusiasm for all things Antipodean – Søren took time out of school when he was 17 to work as a jackeroo on a farm outside Sydney – has paid off and Ole Lynggaard pieces are fast becoming some of the most covetable jewellery items in Australia and New Zealand. 

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“Our design is still distinctly Danish,” Søren says. “Our designers are very inspired by nature, but the Danish comes in by way of making jewellery you can wear. Although it’s a luxury piece, it’s very usable. It’s not something you wear once then lock up in your safe.”

The creative process at the Lynggaard headquarters in Copenhagen is still extremely hands-on and interactive. In fact, the company’s some-45 artisans sit in the middle of the building while other staff go about their daily duties. “We believe it’s important we’re all in the same space. When you go into the company, you walk past production and see how much work goes into each piece. We have lunch together every day; one day you sit with finance, one day with jewellers. Everyone mixes and knows what is going on. It’s good to be reminded what goes into it. It’s very inspiring for staff.”

While many other jewellery companies discontinue lines with the passing seasons, Ole Lynggaard is more about evolution and timelessness, Søren says. “People want quality and they want things that represent something. And they come to us because they want something special.”

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