The History of Fabergé

The House of Fabergé is a jewellery firm which was founded in 1842 in St.Petersburg, Imperial Russia, by Gustav Faberge, using the accented name ‘Fabergé’; Gustav was followed by his son Peter Carl Fabergé, until the firm was nationalised by the Bolsheviks in 1918. 

In 1885, Tsar Alexander III commissioned the House of Fabergé to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna. Its ‘shell’ was enamelled on gold to represent a normal hen’s egg. This pulls apart to reveal a gold yolk, which in turn opens to produce a gold chicken that also opens to reveal a replica of the Imperial Crown from which a miniature ruby egg was suspended. Although both the Crown and the miniature egg have been lost, the rest of the Hen Egg as it is known now, is in the collection of Victor Vekselberg. 

The tradition of the Tsar giving his Empress a surprise Easter egg by Carl Fabergé continued. From 1887, it appears that Carl Fabergé was given complete freedom as to the design of the Imperial Easter eggs as they became more elaborate. According to the Fabergé Family tradition, not even the Tsar knew what egg form they would take: the only stipulation was that each one should contain a surprise. The House of Fabergé completed 54 Imperial eggs for Alexander III to present to his Empress and for Nicholas II to present to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna and his wife the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna. Of these, 42 have survived. The eggs for 1917 were never completed, but have since been discovered in recent years. 

The House of Fabergé also stocked a full range of jewellery and other ornamental objects. There were enamelled gold and silver gilt, as well as wooden photograph frames; gold and silver boxes; desk sets, walking sticks, doorbells and timepieces. Quality was assured by every article made being approved by Carl Fabergé, or in his absence by his eldest son Eugène, before it was placed into stock. The minutest of faults would result in rejection. 

In 2015, Faberge revived its tradition of making the Imperial Egg, with the latest one being made in collaboration with the Al-Fardan family of Qatar. The new Pearl Egg has been created with pearls acquired by the Al-Fardan family as part of their pearl business in the Persian Gulf area. The Pearl Egg's mother-of-pearl exterior opens to reveal a unique grey pearl of 12.17 carats, sourced from the Persian Gulf. The eggs include 139 white pearls, 3,305 diamonds, carved rock crystal and mother-of-pearl set on white and yellow gold. A mechanism makes the entire outer shell rotate on its base, simultaneously opening in six sections to unveil its treasure. The Pearl Egg is accompanied by a Fabergé necklace of white pearls, diamonds and mother of pearl featuring a scallop motif, and finished with a 19.44 carat white pearl drop. 

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