Fabergé Eggs are considered to be among the greatest symbols of Russia and its rich history. To appreciate the history of such beautiful art one must visit the history of The House of Fabergé.
Born in St. Petersburg in 1846, Peter Carl Fabergé was the son of a jeweler, Gustav Fabergé, owner of a small silver and jewelry shop. At the age of 24, he took over his father’s shop. He was well-trained as an apprentice in some of the major centers of European decorative arts. Determined to distinguish his family name, he and his brother formulated a new aesthetic in decorative art that differed from the gaudy sizes and precious stones and metals used at the time. It has been said Fabergé felt “…it should be creativity and craftsmanship rather than carat content that dictated the appreciation of a piece…”
In 1882 at the Moscow Pan-Russian Exhibition, Fabergé was recognized for his craftsmanship and earned a lot of press and the eye of Emperor Alexander III. Three years later Fabergé was appointed “Supplier to the Court of His Imperial Majesty.” Alexander III ordered Fabregé to create the first Imperial Easter egg for his wife, Maria Feodorovna. It became an imperial tradition that spanned over 32 years.
It took a year to create the decorative art. The enameling process was so intricate that it cannot be duplicated to this day. Fabergé created over 140 new colors. Each piece was one of a kind, never duplicated. If a piece wasn’t sold or used, it was destroyed. Fabergé’s documents including his methods, techniques and formulas for colors were buried and lost forever.
The most expensive of the eggs is the Winter Egg created in 1913. To capture the winter frost, the egg was carved from rock crystal as thin as glass. Each egg had a surprise inside. The Winter Egg contained a basket of quartz, nephrite, gold and garnet and was decorated with platinum and 3,246 diamonds—a masterpiece. The price was 24,000 rubles or 2.36 million today.
Fabergé created 150,000 objects and never repeated a piece or an idea.
I chose the Fabergé egg as a symbol of this month’s celebration for the history of its craftsmanship, rarity and beauty. I ponder the symbolism as to what Fabergé was trying to convey with his art. Are we the jewel inside the egg with the exquisite enamel as our surface? Such beauty we all behold, with a secret inside—like the surprise in the egg—just waiting to be opened—to gleam like a jewel.