The traditional jewelry of Norway is called Solje (SOL-ya), meaning shiny, sunny. Antique peices date back several centuries.
Years ago they were completely handmade of silver and other precious metals which were available to the craftsman. Soljes were a pin, or a type of buckle which would secure a womans ribbon around her collar. Very old solje have the loose buckle fastener. They were traditionally worn with the Bunad or National Costumes.
As time went on each area of Norway adopted different styles of solje for the regional styles of Bunads. Designs would include flower drops, heart drops and tears. The back of the pin would be a round scalloped piece or even a heart. Sizes would range from about an inch big to a more massive size of four or more inches in diameter. A pin can be worn at the collar and another can be worn on the bodice. Anecdotal history tells us that a more wealthy woman would wear larger pieces. All solje pins were considered heirloom and saved and passed on to the next generation.
Solje Jewelry Today
Solje jewelry is still made today in Norway. Each heart, each flower is painstakenly hand turned silver wire. If one looks closely at the silver solje wire one can see the twists needed to make each element of the pin. Special silver drops are placed on the pieces as well. The texture adds to the shine of the pin. Today there are earrings and pendants made for contemporary dress. In Norway solje jewelry is traditionally worn on festival days with one’s Bunad or National Costume. Solje is an appropriate traditional accessory for weddings, holidays and dress occasions. A “first solje”design has been produced for children and the traditional heart with crown, meant to symbolize a Norwegian wedding crown, is perfect for a bridal trouseau. The mix of sterling silver and 18kt “tears” on these pieces are truly heirlooms.
Cleaning your Solje Jewelry
Solje jewelry is sterling silver. Many pieces will have drops or “tears” which are silver dipped in 18kt gold. New solje pieces should be kept in a box when not being worn. Light and air will contribute to tarnishing of the piece. They can be easily cleaned, however. Use a cream silver polish and gently scrub all the little indentations. A very soft toothbrush used very carefully will help get into all the crevises. Rinse the piece with clean water and dry with a soft cloth. Please note that vintage and antique solje dating before the mid 1960’s will not be as bright as newer solje. It became fashionalble to make the jewelry bright using a chemical process on the silver in later years. Older silver will still have a glowing and antique like patina which can not be duplicated. All solje, no matter the vintage, should be worn as an elegant accessory.