Every veteran jeweler has heard of the famous Fabergé eggs. For those who don’t know, Fabergé eggs are stunning masterworks of jewelry genius and decadence. Their design is like a cross between Easter eggs and nesting dolls. Fabergé eggs use gold, gems, and precious metals with intricate designs; they also open up to reveal a “surprise,” which is usually another piece of jewelry.
Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé first began crafting the eggs in 1885 at the request of Tsar Alexander III. The first egg, known as “The Hen” was made of gold and white enamel to give the appearance of a realistic, shimmering egg shell. The surprise inside was a matte finished gold egg yolk that contained another surprise – a varicolored gold hen with ruby eyes. The hen also contained two additional surprises: a miniature replica of the Russian imperial crown topped with a wearable ruby pendant. Alexander gave The Hen to his wife as an Easter present. They were both so delighted with the beauty and design of The Hen that Alexander appointed Fabergé to serve as Goldsmith by Special Appointment to the Imperial Crown.
With that, Fabergé’s jewelry business became the largest in Russia. Fabergé and his team of craftsman went on to produce another 64 eggs. Most were for Russian royalty, but some nobles commissioned a few as well. Unfortunately, Fabergé’s success came to an end with the Russian Revolution of 1917. Just like the famous Amber Room, the Fabergé eggs were caught up in conflict. At that time, most of the aristocracy’s possessions were seized – including the eggs. Joseph Stalin even tried to sell them to raise capital for his regime. During that tumultuous period eight eggs were lost, likely because of looting or poor cataloging. They’re still out there somewhere. Perhaps someday they will be rediscovered and the world can marvel at their beauty once more.