Opro: Jewellery made in Norway with love and laughter
By Celina Tran | Photos: Opro
Colourful enamel jewellery, laughter and impeccable talent could explain why everyone from film producers to the Norwegian royals knows of Opro. After generations of experience, it’s safe to say that no one does it as they do.
June Rasch-Olsen sits in an old, small office, surrounded by paperwork and a busy phone. Like most other days at Opro, there is a lot to do. If you enter the door behind her, you’re taken back in time. Soaked in history and soul, the walls, work stations and tools are still firmly in the ‘70s.
“Sometimes, old is better,” Rasch-Olsen shrugs, smiling. “It’s just so charming. Whenever I come back from our short breaks in the summer, I’m hit by the smell of my childhood.”
In fact, Rasch-Olsen has spent almost every summer holiday since she was four in the workshop, and it has remained the same since her father, Ole Petter Rasch-Olsen, established it in 1976. Opro, which is named after its founder, is one of few remaining enamel-based jewellers in Norway and the country’s largest of its kind. Since the beginning, it has been a space of passion, talent and a love of beauty.
“My dad says he was bad at school and needed to do something with his hands, which is why he became a goldsmith,” Rasch-Olsen, who’s also a goldsmith, says. “I started helping him when I was 19, and I’ve been here since.”
Beauty to last generations
Like sunsets, the calm sea and a high-quality photo of starry galaxies, the vibrant colours and lustre of enamel jewellery make it a sight for sore eyes. As the producer of said jewellery, Rasch-Olsen explains that they want their art to last generations. “Sustainability is incredibly important to us,” she says. “We prioritise quality so that our jewellery can be passed down generations, which it often is.”
Rasch-Olsen excitedly explains that customers like to tell them about the jewellery they’ve passed down to children or grandchildren. Opro owes its loyal customers to the timelessness of the work. “We’re happy to have many regular, returning customers who genuinely care and enjoy our work, rather than waves of people who only buy it because it’s popular right now. I pride myself on the beautiful jewellery we make here.”
Locality is another important value for Rasch-Olsen and the Opro team. All the jewellery is handmade and produced in Norway, and they only work with workshops based in the country. “We also don’t sell anything from our workshop. There are a few things in the web shop, but nothing that you’d find in a jewellery shop. We mostly sell through goldsmiths all over the country, because we want Norwegian artisans to thrive.”
From castles to film productions
Opro is a name most jewellery lovers know. Their clients include the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Castle, but these are not Rasch-Olsen’s proudest achievements. On a warm spring day not long ago, the producers of the new version of Three Wishes for Cinderella, starring famous Norwegian pop star Astrid S, approached Opro.
“They brought the hazelnuts from the film and asked if we could make them into jewellery, which we did,” she says, grinning widely. “It wasn’t our usual enamel work, but it was still incredibly fun. We love working with big clients and being a part of such great projects.”
The demand for their beautiful enamel isn’t only restricted to Norway; Opro has also made a name for itself abroad. The work has been sold everywhere from New York to the renowned EPCOT centre in Florida, where it saw great success. Even since the executive decision to localise the business, international customers can access some of the unique jewellery in the web shop. Still, Rasch-Olsen recommends everyone to visit jewellery shops in Norway to help boost local business, too.
Passion and laughter
Despite the hectic days, Rasch-Olsen and the Opro team are truly passionate about their work. Though their area of focus is on the production of enamel jewellery, they find other, fun things to do as well. “We’ve repaired and restored old things, which was fun,” she says proudly. “We’ve also cracked the art of enamelled glass.”
Laughter, fun and music echo through the walls at the Opro workshop. According to Rasch-Olsen, enjoyment is an important part of the job. When asked if she intends to pass the torch on to her children, she shakes her head. “Only if they want to. I love what we do, but having fun in your job is important. I’ll only do this until I tire of it. That being said, I’ve been here since I was a child, and I don’t have any complaints yet.”
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