5 Steps to Understanding Fabergé

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Lillies-of-the-Valley Easter Egg

My interest in Fabergé and the amazing Easter eggs goes back 25 years or more. I admire the craftsmanship, attention to detail, the beauty and fantasy of the pieces created by a true master craftsman. I am not really sure why I developed an interest in something that I will probably never get to hold let alone actually own. I am not talking about the commercialization of Fabergé today, I am talking about an imperial craftsman whose patrons were the royal families of the time and in particular the Russian Imperial family, the Romanovs.

I pin my interest in Fabergé to two aspects; his creations are from the realm of fantasy, are beautifully crafted and in many respects seem to be unreal. Secondly my interest in craftsmanship, design and magnificent creations, stems from growing up in jewellery making and antique businesses. From an early age, I was running around a factory of 20 or more craftsmen and as I grew older I shadowed my father, a craftsman in his own right and later my mother an antique dealer. Weekends and holidays were always filled with helping out at one of our two shops and sharing my passion for beautifully created pieces with our customers. 

The admiration of craftsmanship and design is in my DNA and I naturally gravitated towards the ultimate master craftsman, Carl Fabergé.  

If you haven’t heard about Fabergé here are 5 facts, explained, to help you better understand a master craftsman from a bygone era. 

Carl Faberge Designing at his Desk

Who Was This World Famous Jeweller and Artist?

Carl Fabergé was the son of a jeweller in St. Petersburg, Russia. From 1864 - 1866, Fabergé travelled throughout Europe learning specialized skills in jewellery making. Carl joined his father’s jewellery firm in St. Petersburg and began production as a jeweller. 

What makes Fabergé so different from any other jeweller is his drive for perfection and the quest to create art, he became an artist-jeweller and believed that the materials he used should serve the purpose of design. Carl Fabergé used his artistic flare to great effect in the creation of treasured jewelled Easter eggs, it is these eggs for which he is most famous. 

It took several years to create an egg with Fabergé designing the initial concept and a team of incredible craftsmen fashioned the pieces. It is said that if a piece did not meet his exacting standards, Fabergé would take a hammer and smash it to pieces.

The First Imperial Egg or The Hen Egg

The First Imperial Easter Egg Commissioned By The Tsar of Russia

1885, The first Imperial Easter egg also, known as the Hen Egg was commissioned by the then Tsar of Russia, Alexander III for his wife the Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.

This egg was 2 ½ high with white matte enamel to resemble a hens egg. 

All of Fabergé’s eggs contained a “surprise”. The first Imperial egg was no exception, the egg opened to reveal a dull gold yolk, which opened up to reveal a gold hen with ruby eyes. The incredible detail of the feathers are visible as are the feet. Originally inside the hen was a replica of the Imperial crown from which was suspended a miniature ruby egg. Both of which have been lost. 

In February 2004 Viktor Veselberg spent over a $ 100 million in acquiring 9 eggs from the Forbes Collection in America, one of which was the First Imperial Egg. These eggs are now on display in the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, which officially opened in November 19, 2013. 

The Third Imperial Egg

What is the highest Price Obtained for a Fabergé Egg?

In 1887 the third Imperial egg was commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II for his mother. 

It was a ridged gold egg with a watch inside, the egg stood on a gold tripod pedestal with lion paw feet encircled by gold coloured garlands suspended from blue sapphires topped with rose cut diamond set bows. 

It was thought this egg was lost until 2012. 

One night a scrap dealer in America went online to research the gold egg he had bought a decade earlier for $ 13 302. 

For 10 years this egg had been sitting in his kitchen. In an article in the Telegraph the egg is photographed next to a cup cake in the kitchen. 

The egg was sold to a private collector for $ 33 million in 2014

The Coronation Egg, 1897

Fabergé made Replicas of Real Life Objects with Incredible Detail and to Precise Scale

1897 Fabergé made an egg to commemorate Tsar Nicholas’ coronation. The egg was made from gold with a translucent yellow enamel on a guilloché field of starbursts, referencing the cloth-of-gold the Tsarina wore to the coronation. 

It is trellised with bands of gold laurel leaves mounted at each intersection by a gold Imperial double-headed eagle (the Romanov family emblem) enameled in opaque black, and set with a rose diamond on its chest. 

However it’s the surprise inside which is so remarkable. In the velvet lined compartment is a precise replica, less than four inches long, of the eighteenth century imperial coach that carried the Tsarina to the coronation. 

The red colour of the original coach was recreated using strawberry coloured translucent enamel and the blue upholstery of the interior was also reproduced in enamels. 

The coach is surmounted by the Imperial Crown set with rose cut diamonds and six double-headed eagles on the roof; it is fitted with engraved rock crystal windows and platinum tyres decorated with a diamond-set trellis in gold and an Imperial eagle set with diamonds at either door. 

The miniature is complete with moving wheels, opening doors, actual C-spring shock absorbers and a tiny folding step-stair. The missing surprises include an emerald or diamond pendant that hung inside the replica coach, a glass-enclosed jadeite stand for the display of the carriage as well as a stand made of silver-giltwire. 

This is just one example of the detail to which Fabergé went to, to create these decorative artistic pieces. 

How Many Eggs were Made

Fabergé made 50 Imperial eggs only 43 survive today in addition he produced over 120 000 unique pieces of jewellery and objects d'art. 

To truly understand the proportions of the Fabergé eggs, watch this great video from the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg. This museum houses the largest collection of Fabergé pieces in the world with over 4000 items.

Well I hope you are able to grasp why the world is so enamoured with Fabergé and hopefully this Easter you will look at the humble Easter egg in a new light.

Happy Easter to you and your family from the La Vogue Vintage team. 

The Renaissance Egg