The Fabergé eggs were the crown jewels of “The House of Fabergé. These exotic eggs were introduced to the world by Peter Karl Fabergé at the insistence of Alexander III. The Tsar and his wife Maria fell in love with the displays of exquisite jewelry from “The House of Fabergé” at the 1882 Moscow-Pan Russian Exhibition. In 1885, Peter was asked and honored to become the jewelry supplier to his imperial majesty. That same year he was given an order by Alexander III for an Easter Egg for his beautiful wife. This “Hen Egg” was to become the first of an amazing array of Fabergé Eggs.
The “Hen Egg” was a simple, yet elegant egg with a unique golden yolk interior, which opens up to reveal a golden hen with ruby eyes. The outside is white opaque enamel. This first egg would start the 30 year history of Fabergé Eggs. Because Peter had become the jeweler to his majesty, his business became very profitable. Since the Tsar traveled around so much and exchanged gifts with many important heads of states, the Fabergé name became well known. In 1894 Alexander III died and Nicholas II became the Tsar and wife Alexandra became the Tsarina. By 1896, almost every gift given out by the Tsar and Tsarina were Fabergé.
What most people didn’t realize is that Peter Karl Fabergé was not actually the jewelry maker of the Fabergé eggs. He had a full team of designers, goldsmiths and stonecutters under his command. With more than 500 employees and 5 stores in two countries, he was the genius that made Fabergé a monumental success.
It took a year to complete the process of making the famous eggs. They started their routine with formulating a plan, sketching out the egg and then preparing a model. Parts were made a various Fabergé shops, with the help of the many hands that would contribute to the eggs production.
The way that Peter Karl Fabergé produced these eggs as well as other pieces were quite unique. He actually came up with over 140 new colors to use for his pieces. He guaranteed that anything that you bought from his stores were one of a kind. He was so determined to keep his brand unique that any pieces that were not sold by the end of the year were disposed of.
There are numerous Fabergé egg collections and they are as follows:
1885-1917 Imperial Eggs (1st Egg-The Hen Egg)
1898-1904 Kelch Eggs (1st Egg-Hen Egg)
1895-1917 Eggs of Imperial Quality (1st Egg-Duchess of Marlborough Egg)
Fabergé also had other categories that included the Clock Eggs, the Look Alikes, and the Singing Birds. There were a few others as well. In 1916 the political climate in Russia changed rapidly. Nicholas II abdicated the throne in 1917, but because he was considered a permanent threat to Russian communism, the family was killed and buried in the woods. When NicholasII left Russia that was the end of the tradition of the yearly jeweled eggs.
Fabergé was truly a jeweler before his time. He believed that the quality of the work and the detail should determine the value of jewels not so much the stones. Fabergé gave the world something beautiful to behold and his legacy will live on as one of the extraordinary extravagances of our time.