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Eggs-quisitely Elegant | The History of Fabergé Eggs

While you may not find this kind of egg on an egg hunt with the family, Fabergé eggs have their own traditions and date back to the late 1800s.

Perhaps considered one of the most famous examples of exquisite and luxurious craftsmanship to this day, Fabergé eggs were originally commissioned by the Russian Imperial family in the late 1800s. Tsar Alexander III wanted a richly jeweled egg as an Easter gift for his wife so Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé got to work and produced the very first Fabergé egg in 1885. And like the Easter eggs you may find hidden in your shrubs or gutters, these eggs were also intended to contain a surprise inside.

Initially the first Fabergé egg was to contain a diamond ring, but after specific instructions given by the Emperor, the egg could be opened to find a ruby pendant instead. Over the course of the next two decades, ten eggs were produced for the family during Alexander III’s reign, starting a dazzling tradition that his son Nicholas II would carry on for his wife and his mother every Easter.

The popularity of the eggs-travagent gifts spread well beyond the Imperial family, and soon other wealthy families began commissioning their own eggs. The eggs soon began to represent great wealth and luxury, and owning a Fabergé egg was considered a status symbol. And with the skill level and time that it took to craft up just one Fabergé egg–up to one year per egg–it’s no surprise they come with such a high value.

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The intricate Fabergé egg-making process began by creating a design for the egg and then the outer shell would start to come to life. The team of goldsmiths would craft the eggs out of precious metals like gold or silver and they were each decorated with intricate engravings, filigree work and other decorative elements. And while his competitors used a standard palette, Fabergé wanted to experiment with more colors. He created resplendent yellows, mauves, all shades of greens coming up with over one hundred and forty new colors.

Just as important as its exterior, the Fabergé egg’s interior was given just as much attention to detail. A team of jewelers would work on creating a surprise to be hidden inside the bejeweled shell. These surprises could be anything from miniature portraits of the recipients’ husbands to tiny replicas of famous landmarks. The artists behind these miniature works of art were some of the best miniature painters, sculptors and engravers of that time who used a variety of material, including enamel, precious stones and even hair, to create their work.

Finally, once all of the intricate pieces were complete, they were assembled by a team of skilled craftsmen to create the final product. The egg was then presented to the recipient and would become a treasured family heirloom for years to come. 

Unfortunately, the House of Fabergé was forced to close its doors during the Russian Revolution in 1917 and Fabergé and his family fled Russia. Many of the Fabergé eggs were sold, lost or smuggled out of Russia during this time, but now many of them are housing museums like the famous Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

However, history came full circle when in 2007, with new ownership and direction, the company announced the reunification of the brand with the Fabergé family. This new chapter set the stage for a total revitalization of the Fabergé name and philosophy which are in tune with its original values and spirit.

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FUN FACTS ABOUT FABERGÉ EGGS

  • Fifty Fabergé eggs were ever made for the Imperial Family. Only 43 have ever been found, meaning there are seven left out there—the ultimate Easter egg hunt.
  • The most expensive Fabergé egg ever sold was the Rothschild Egg, which sold for $16.5 million at an auction in 2007. 
  • The Imperial Coronation Egg, created in 1897, is considered the most famous and ICONIC of all Fabergé eggs. Its shell is made of multi-colored gold and is embellished with translucent yellow guilloché enamel and black double-headed eagles set with diamonds.

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