Solje, which means shiny or sunny, is an umbrella term for traditional Norwegian jewelry, made from silver. Dating centuries back, these antique pieces used to be handcrafted into intricate designs with flower and teardrop accents and lavish embellishments.
Usually, a pin that secured a woman’s ribbon, Norwegian Solje jewelry pieces were worn on the collar, together with the Norwegian national costume, the Bunad. Sizes ranged from 1 - 4 inches and wealthy women would wear larger pieces. Men also wore Solje pieces to buckle their shoes.
With time, Norway’s different regions developed their own Solje styles to suit their Bunads. Each piece was viewed as an heirloom that was kept and passed down through generations. Today, this traditional Norwegian jewelry remains popular, especially to embellish one’s Bunad for national holidays or festivals.
Contemporary Solje Styles
Solje continues to be made in the country, not just as a nod to the past, but to meet current fashion trends. Reminiscent of the ancient styles, modern Solje pieces display beautiful flower or heart patterns that are handcrafted using silver wire and other precious materials.
Children often receive their first piece at a young age. Usually a small, simple brooch with silver or golden spoon-like adornments that symbolize the sun and are meant to protect the wearer, these handmade pieces continue to be kept and passed down as heirlooms.
Whether it’s earrings, necklaces, pendants, or other pieces, Solje Scandinavian jewelry remains popular with the youth as it transmits a sense of national pride while offering a trendy style. Often gifted on birthdays or weddings, Norwegians enjoy wearing these pieces during special occasions.
People who buy Solje jewelry today are advised to keep them in a box to avoid light or air from tarnishing the pieces. Maintenance of this traditional Norwegian jewelry is easy, however, as a cream silver polish and gentle scrubbing with a soft toothbrush can get rid of tiny indentations or dirt. A clean water rinse and dry pat with a soft cloth ensure the piece looks like new.
Those that are lucky enough to have been handed down vintage Solje pieces that date back decades or centuries will often notice less shine. That’s because a chemical process to make this Norwegian jewelry shiny and bright was only introduced after the 1960s.