A Fabergé egg is one of a limited number of jeweled eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his company between 1885 and 1917.
After being commissioned to create an Easter egg for the royal family of Russia in 1885, the Imperials liked the result so much that further eggs were commissioned each year.
Fabergé produced one egg per year for Tsar Alexander and then two per year after Nicholas II was crowned.
Each egg took a year or more to make, involving a team of highly skilled craftsmen, who worked in the greatest secrecy. Fabergé was given complete freedom in the design and execution, with the only prerequisite being that there had to be surprise within each creation.
The eggs became increasingly opulent and no expense was spared in their creation. For example, the egg made in 1900, The Trans-Siberian Railway egg, was made of gold, silver, onyx and quartz and its inside was lined with velvet.
This continued until 1917, when the Romanovs were executed by the Bolsheviks.
While Fabergé’s most famous eggs were produced for the Romanov family — he made 50 for Alexander and Nicholas II before the revolution — a many were also commissioned by wealthy collectors.
Another patron Faberge served at the same time as the Imperial Romanovs was the Kelch family. Alex Kelch was a wealthy industrialist who commissioned seven eggs for his wife during their marriage. They rivaled the Imperial eggs in beauty, ingenuity, and, of course, their precious stone extravagance.
Of the 65 known Fabergé eggs, 57 have survived to the present day. Ten of the Imperial Easter eggs are displayed at Moscow’s Kremlin Armory Museum. Of the 50 known Imperial eggs, 43 have survived.
First Faberge egg known as the Hen Egg, it is crafted from gold, its opaque white enamelled ‘shell’ opening to reveal its first surprise, a matt yellow gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multi-coloured, superbly chased gold hen that also opens. Originally, this contained a minute diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a small ruby pendant egg was suspended. Unfortunately these last two surprises have been lost.
The Moscow Kremlin Egg is by far the largest of the Fabergé eggs and was inspired by the architecture of the Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspenski) in Moscow. This cathedral was where all the Tsars of Russia were crowned, including Nicholas II himself.
Made in the Rococo style, the Peter the Great Egg celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg in 1703. It is made of red, green and yellow gold, platinum, rose-cut diamonds, rubies, enamel, rock crystal, and miniature watercolor portraits on ivory.
The Romanov Tercentenary Egg is made of gold, silver, rose-cut and portrait diamonds, turquoise, purpurine, rock crystal, Vitreous enamel and watercolor painting on ivory. The egg celebrates the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty, the three hundred years of Romanov rule from 1613 to 1913.
The Order of St. George egg is Made during World War I, the Order of St. George egg commemorates the Order of St. George that was awarded to Emperor Nicholas and his son, the Grand Duke Alexei Nikolaievich.
Very important Faberge collection belongs to the British Royal Family. This collection Include three of
the historic eggs. Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother Queen Mary bought the Colonnade Egg Clock, the Mosaic Egg , and the Basket of Flowers Egg.
In 2007, a previously unknown egg surfaced that Fabergé created for the Rothschild family. The egg, translucent pink with a clock built into its surface, sold at auction for approximately $14-million.
In 2014 by chance, an unidentified man bought it at a market in the U.S. Midwest for $14,000, intending to sell it for scrap. Unable to find a buyer, he searched the Internet and realized that he may have found Empress Maria Feodorovna’s lost Easter egg. Faberge expert Kieran McCarthy examined the object. To the joy and amazement of the art world and Faberge fans everywhere, he declared that it was the long-lost Third Imperial Easter Egg. Lucky man sold this egg to private collector for about $33 million.
Viktor Vekselberg is the single largest owner of Fabergé eggs in the world, owning fifteen of them (nine Imperial, two Kelch, and four other Fabergé eggs). In a 2013 BBC Four documentary, Vekselberg revealed that he had spent just over $100 million purchasing the nine Fabergé Imperial eggs from the Forbes collection.He claims never to have displayed them in his home, saying he bought them because they are important to Russian history and culture, and he believed them to be the best jewelry art in the world. In the same BBC documentary, Vekselberg revealed plans to open a museum to display the eggs in his collection.