The works of Peter Carl Faberge remain an unsurpassed pinnacle of world jewelry art. They are recognized as gems, on a par with the highest class works of fine art. The rich ornamentation of these specific ovoid works, decorated with precious stones and precious metals, makes them increasingly expensive and collectible works over time.
The first Fabergé eggs were produced between 1885 and 1917 – the year of the October Revolution in Russia. As is known, the first piece of jewelry was made for the Russian Tsar Alexander III, as an Easter gift for his wife – Empress Maria Fedorovna.
It has a hidden secret: beneath the white enamel “casing” is a gold hen, which also opens to reveal a miniature diamond replica of the imperial crown with a ruby pendant.
The empress was so delighted with the gift that Alexander III appointed Fabergé as “goldsmith on special assignment to the imperial court”.
An entire team of master craftsmen was assigned to Fabergé to work on his projects. Imperial Easter eggs are becoming increasingly elaborate and ornate. Each subsequent egg was unique and of course – with a surprise.
Some of Fabergé’s most famous eggs include a diamond grid that surrounds a small elephant figurine made of ivory and encrusted with precious stones.
The inside of the Gatchina Palace Egg reveals a miniature gold replica of the Gatchina Palace, and many of the eggs are also decorated with small portraits of the Imperial Family.
Some of Fabergé’s eggs from the Russian period were intended to commemorate important people or events: for example, the “Order of St. George” was made during the First World War.
After the death of Alexander III, on November 1, 1894, his son Nicholas II continued to collect Fabergé eggs, as well as to observe the tradition of his mother receiving her Easter gift.
Fabergé became famous all over the world, as the Russian emperor gave his works as gifts to important world figures. One of them is Rothschild.
Gifts for important people around the world began to be ordered from Faberge and Russian nobles of world fame, such as Prince Yusupov and Alexander Kelch.
When, after the revolution in 1917, the Romanov rule was overthrown and the imperial family was executed, what remained was… the imperial collection of Faberge, created by the master jeweler between 1885 and 1916. It is nationalized.
“The Father of the Egg” – Peter Carl Fabergé dies in exile
Several of the 68 Fabergé eggs mysteriously disappear
Peter Carl Fabergé, born Carl Gustavovich Fabergé, is one of the most famous jewelers of all time, who became known for the so-called Fabergé eggs. He was born in 1846 in St. Petersburg, as a “Russian with European roots”. His father, Gustave Faberge, is an Estonian, an emigrant from France, and his mother, Charlotte, is Danish. Peter grew up in Czarist Russia, Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain, where he received his education, and died in 1920 in Lausanne, Switzerland. After the October Revolution, the great jeweler stopped working with the words: “It’s all over!”
Fabergé inherited his father’s workshop in 1870 and became extremely popular throughout Europe with his jewelry creations made of gold and silver, malachite, topaz, lapis lazuli, crystal and dozens of other materials. In his homeland he was titled “jeweler of His Imperial Majesty and jeweler of the Imperial Hermitage”.
In 1885, Emperor Alexander III ordered a decorative Easter egg from the Faberge atelier as a gift for his wife. Thus begins the story of Fabergé eggs.
The jeweler made 10 eggs one after the other for Tsar Alexander III, who, until his death in 1894, traditionally gave one to his wife Maria Feodorovna every year. The tradition was continued by his successor – Tsar Nicholas II, for whom Fabergé made 44 eggs.
Of the total of 54 eggs for the Russian Imperial Court, 45 have been preserved to this day. One of Fabergé’s two eggs, which he did not finish because of the outbreak of the October Revolution in 1917, is also preserved. It ended Fabergé’s glorious career. The master sells his shares in the company to his associates and leaves Russia. He died in exile.
Faberge eggs are 68 in total, and were made in the period 1885 – 1917. 52 of them are presented as Easter eggs. 7 were commissioned by the Moscow Kelch family.
The current value of these unique pieces of jewelry is tens of millions of dollars.
Fabergé jewelry, handed down by inheritance or purchased for private collections, is not only in Russia, but also in Great Britain, Denmark, Greece and Bulgaria.
After the October Revolution, which drove Faberge from Russia, there was a monstrous looting of the imperial treasures and churches – among the many crowns, diadems with precious stones and other jewels, there were even Faberge’s eggs. In 1925, part of the so-called Diamond fund of the USSR, was sold to the English antiquarian Norman Weiss. In 1928, the Diamond Fund wrote off 7 Fabergé eggs as “low value”, including one of the most exquisite – the “Peacock” egg.
The peacock itself was mechanical – the bird could raise its tail and even walk. The Necesser egg is shrouded in mystery. It was last seen in a jewelry store in London in 1949. According to rumors, it was then sold for $1,250, and its current value is no less than $30 million.
One of the eggs was bought by an American who didn’t know it was a Faberge egg and only found out when he went to sell it. After the examination, it turned out that this is one of the “lost” Easter eggs of the Russian imperial court.
The British royal family owns three imperial Easter eggs and a very large collection of other Faberge wares. According to experts, the great jeweler is the author of over 200,000 pieces of jewelry. Currently, works by Faberge are worth on the market from 8,000 to 600,000 dollars.