Catalogs, Journals, and Books,  Oh my!

 by Patrick Kapty

I recently received a small pile of 1970s Scandinavian jewelry catalogs and journals from a good friend. That friend, well-known author/speaker/gemologist/etc Christie Romero (see our featured site this issue of Modern Silver magazine), had received them in turn from a former student of hers, and very graciously passed them along to me for my perusal. Needless to say, such documentation from the period is priceless!

Jens Asby, Denmark, ad from 1973


Jens Asby in his own ad, 1973

While leafing through one journal, "Scandinavian Gold and Silver News" from 1973, I was very excited to see a photograph of one of my pet mystery makers from Denmark. Though I've seen very little of the actual work of Jens Asby of Copenhagen, Denmark, every single piece that I have seen has been truly fabulous! Here in this contemporary journal from the period was a picture of the designer himself with a customer, along with photos of his amazing jewelry adorning fashion model types. Unfortunately, according to another friend who was recently in Denmark and spoke with the maestro himself, Jens Asby is now retired and no longer designing jewelry.

designer Veronica Lotta, Tillander Oy, Finland, ad from 1973

Sometimes these vintage resources can produce mysteries rather than dispelling them. Another designer whose work is pictured in the above journal, Veronica Lotta, created exciting designs. However, other than the name of the firm she worked for, Tillander Oy of Helsinki, Finland, there was little additional information about her career.

A designer that I had inquired about previously on SilverForum - the internet discussion group for information about silver jewelry - Karl-Erik Palmberg, had some of his work pictured in the "Scandinavian Gold and Silver News". The designs shown are so similar to the bracelet that I'd previously owned that I'm fairly certain that they must be from the same line, "Night and Day". If memory serves me, my bracelet was also date-marked 1973, so it's probably a safe bet. Other notable designers whose work was also pictured in this journal include Bjorn Weckstrom and Bent Gabrielsen.

designer Karl-Erik Palmberg, Swedish firm of Alton, ad from 1973

designer Elis Kauppi, firm of Kupitaan Kulta, Finland, ad from 1974

A catalog, "Jewelry from Finland", 1974, showed some wonderful designs by Elis Kauppi of Finland. Few of Kauppi's designs that I've seen in person are of the caliber of those pictured in this catalog, so it was a treat to be able to at least see pictures of his outstanding work! Also, this should make inroads into the prevailing prejudice against Kauppi's oeuvre as being somewhat on the bland side.

Also pictured in the above catalog is the work of another of my pet mystery makers, Jorma Laine of Finland. Of the pieces shown, I've only seen one of the rings in person. While the ring was impressive, the pendants and bracelet are breath-taking!

If I could just find some biographical background on this designer, then at least a small part of my life would be complete.

Jorma Laine, Finland, ad from 1974

designer Pentti Sarpaneva, firm of Turun Hopea, ad from 1974

A designer whose work I am fairly familiar with, Pentti Sarpaneva, also had some eye-opening works in "Jewelry from Finland". Most of his work that I've seen previously just didn't knock my socks off like the two pieces shown there.

A catalog displaying the work of Liisa Vitali for Kultakeskus Oy, Finland, solved several mysteries at one time. Not one piece that I've seen by this designer has had a designer monogram or mark, and on occasion hasn't even borne the manufacturer mark. According to one Finnish source, the simple openwork enamel rings that resemble flying saucers made from swiss cheese are also by this designer. I have no problem believing that assertion after viewing her incredible work in this catalog from the 1970s.


designer Liisa Vitali, firm of Kultakeskus Oy, Finland, 1970s catalog

firm of Sten & Laine, Finland, ad from 1974

Although catalogs and journals from the period are wonderful resources for design and designer information, there are other worthwhile sources. One of my favorite sources for pictures of the work of jewelry designers of the 1970s is the magnum opus by Oppi Untracht, "Jewelry: Concepts and Technology". Although a Finn, Untracht used photos of the work of artist/designers from all over the world to illustrate his classic work on the technical aspects of jewelry-making. Many other books from the period, though often out-of-print, hard to find, and usually expensive, are well worth the effort and cost of adding them to your jewelry archives. For some suggested titles and authors, take a look at the 'Indispensable Books' list on the SilverForum pages here on Modern Silver magazine.


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