Fabergé Eggs: A Brief History of the Iconic Russian Jewels

Fabergé eggs are known for their exquisite beauty and intricate designs. These jeweled eggs were created by the House of Fabergé, a jewelry firm in Saint Petersburg, Russia, between 1885 and 1917. Peter Carl Fabergé, the head of the firm, oversaw the creation of nearly 70 eggs, of which 57 are still in existence today.

These eggs were originally commissioned by the Russian Imperial family as Easter gifts, and they quickly became a symbol of luxury and opulence. Each egg was a unique work of art, featuring precious metals, gemstones, and intricate designs. Many of the eggs could be opened to reveal a surprise inside, such as a miniature portrait, a clock, or a tiny figurine.

Today, Fabergé eggs are highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts around the world. They are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the House of Fabergé, and they offer a glimpse into the opulent world of the Russian Imperial family during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Faberge Eggs
Faberge Eggs – Source: Maksim Ladouski / shutterstock.com

History of Fabergé Eggs

Fabergé Eggs are exquisite pieces of art that have become synonymous with luxury and opulence. These eggs were created by the House of Fabergé, a jewelry firm founded in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1842 by Gustav Fabergé. It was his son, Peter Carl Fabergé, who gained worldwide fame for his work on the Fabergé Eggs.

The first Fabergé Egg was commissioned in 1885 by Tsar Alexander III as an Easter gift for his wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna. The egg was crafted from gold and enamel, and it opened to reveal a golden yolk, which in turn contained a golden hen. The hen, in turn, contained a miniature diamond replica of the imperial crown and a tiny ruby pendant.

After the success of the first egg, Alexander III continued to commission Fabergé to create a new egg every Easter. These eggs were not just beautiful pieces of art but also contained surprises and hidden treasures inside. Each egg was unique and featured intricate designs and details, including precious stones, enamel, and gold.

During the Russian Revolution in 1917, the House of Fabergé was nationalized, and the Fabergé family fled Russia. The last Fabergé Egg was created in 1917, and only 50 of the 69 eggs created are known to still exist today. The remaining eggs are highly prized and are held in private collections and museums around the world.

Today, Fabergé Eggs continue to captivate and inspire people around the world with their beauty and history. They are a testament to the incredible craftsmanship and creativity of Peter Carl Fabergé and his team of skilled artisans.

Design and Materials

Fabergé Eggs are known for their intricate and exquisite designs. Each egg was unique and was crafted with great attention to detail. The eggs were made using a variety of materials, including gold, diamonds, pearls, and precious stones. The enamel work on the eggs was particularly noteworthy and was done using a technique known as guilloché.

The designs on the eggs were inspired by a variety of sources, including historical events, literature, and nature. For example, the Coronation Egg, which was created in 1897, was designed to commemorate the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. The egg was made of gold and was decorated with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. The egg also contained a miniature replica of the carriage that was used to transport the Tsar to his coronation.

Another notable egg is the Lilies of the Valley Egg, which was created in 1898. The egg was made of gold and was decorated with diamonds, pearls, and enamel. The design of the egg was inspired by the lilies of the valley that grew in the garden of Tsar Nicholas II’s mother. The egg also contained a miniature replica of the Imperial Palace at Gatchina.

The materials used to create the eggs were of the highest quality. The gold used was typically 18 karat, and the diamonds and other precious stones were carefully selected for their quality and brilliance. The enamel work on the eggs was done using a technique known as guilloché, which involved engraving a pattern onto the metal surface and then applying layers of colored enamel over it. This technique gave the eggs a unique and beautiful texture.

The Imperial Easter Eggs

The Imperial Easter Eggs are a celebrated series of 50 eggs created for the Russian Imperial family from 1885 to 1916 by Peter Carl Fabergé. These eggs are inextricably linked to the glory and tragic fate of the last Romanov family. The eggs are known for their intricate designs and use of precious materials such as gold, diamonds, and enamel.

Each egg was unique and held a surprise inside, such as a miniature replica of a royal carriage, a clock, or a portrait. The eggs were commissioned by the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers, and each egg was designed to reflect the interests and personalities of the recipients.

Of the 50 Imperial Easter Eggs created, 43 are accounted for today. The whereabouts of the other seven eggs are unknown, and they are considered lost. The eggs are highly sought after by collectors, and some have sold for millions of dollars at auction.

One of the most famous Imperial Easter Eggs is the Fabergé Coronation Egg, created in 1897 to commemorate the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The egg is made of gold, diamonds, and enamel and features a miniature replica of the coach that carried the imperial couple to their coronation.

Another notable egg is the Fabergé Winter Egg, created in 1913 for Tsar Nicholas II to give to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. The egg is made of rock crystal, diamonds, and sapphires and features a miniature replica of the palace where the Dowager Empress spent her winters.

Other Fabergé Eggs

Aside from the Imperial Easter Eggs, Fabergé also created other exquisite eggs that were just as detailed and intricate. These eggs were commissioned by wealthy clients and were often given as gifts. Below are some of the most notable Fabergé eggs:

  • The Bay Tree Egg (1911): This egg was created for the Duchess of Marlborough and features a gold and enamel tree with gemstone fruits as well as a miniature mechanical bird.
  • The Colonnade Egg (1910): This egg was commissioned by Emanuel Nobel and features a gold and enamel egg supported by four columns. The egg opens to reveal a miniature replica of the Nobel Prize factory in Stockholm.
  • The Renaissance Egg (1894): This egg was created for the wife of Alexander III, Maria Feodorovna, and features a gold and enamel egg with a portrait of the Madonna and Child on the front. The egg is also adorned with diamonds and pearls.

These eggs, while not as well-known as the Imperial Easter Eggs, are still highly sought after by collectors and can fetch millions at auction. Each egg is a testament to Fabergé’s skill and attention to detail, and they continue to captivate and inspire people today.

The Legacy of Fabergé Eggs

Fabergé Eggs are a symbol of the exquisite craftsmanship of the House of Fabergé and the opulence of the Russian Imperial family. These eggs have become a part of history and are still highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The Fabergé Eggs were originally commissioned by the Russian Imperial family as Easter gifts for their loved ones. These eggs were made of precious metals, gemstones, and enamel, and were often designed with intricate details and hidden surprises. The eggs celebrated every aspect of pre-Revolutionary Russian history and Imperial life, from the Catherine the Great Egg to the Alexander Palace Egg.

Today, Fabergé Eggs are considered some of the most valuable and collectible works of art in the world. They are highly prized by collectors, museums, and enthusiasts alike, and are often displayed in exhibitions and galleries around the world. The intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into each egg is truly remarkable and is a testament to the skill and talent of the craftsmen who created them.

Despite their immense value, many of the Fabergé Eggs were lost or destroyed during the Russian Revolution and subsequent events. However, some of these eggs have been recovered and are now held in private collections or museums around the world. These eggs continue to captivate and inspire people with their beauty and historical significance.