Fabergé eggs are gorgeous little treasures that allow onlookers to catch a glimpse into a decadent yet tragic era in Russian history. To this day, many say the craftsmanship of Peter Carl Fabergé and his assistants is unmatched. The opulent Imperial eggs featured intricately detailed memories of the Imperial Romanoff family and decorated with the finest gemstones in the world. Between the years 1885 and 1917, Fabergé and his team made sixty-nine eggs, fifty two were for the imperial family.
The first egg was commissioned by Czar Alexander III of Russia as an Easter present for his wife Maria Fyordorovna. The egg was fashioned out of white enameled gold which contained a golden yolk, with a hidden golden hen inside that in turn revealed a tiny crown embellished with a ruby hanging inside. The empress was so excited about the egg that the Czar had one commissioned every year and appointed Fabergé the court supplier. The Czar’s only request to Fabergé was that each egg contains a unique surprise. Upon his death, Czar Alexander III’s son, Nicholas II of Russia continued the tradition and presented the decadent eggs to his wife, Alexandra Fyodorovna as well as his mother. The Imperial Eggs became so famous among the Russian elite that Fabergé made 15 eggs for private clients.
Many jewelry historians say that Fabergé’s work catapulted jewelry to a decorative art that was unparalleled since the Renaissance period. The eggs received critical acclaim and public awe when they were shown at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Fabergé’s work displayed the sign of the times for the Russian Imperial Family and the elite. Czar Nicolas was unmoved in honoring the old traditions and values of the “old Russia”. The czar faced tough criticism from his people and political figures, so Fabergé made a point of capturing the best moments and triumphs of the Romanov family and capture them in the breathtaking jeweled eggs.
One of the most famous Imperial eggs is the fifteenth anniversary egg commissioned in 1911. The delicate egg is five inches tall and displays detailed paintings of the most memorable events from the Romanov family. This work is not only famous for showcasing the immense attention to detail that Fabergé and his team paid to their work, but it also showcases a loving family enjoying life who would soon meet a very tragic end. In the early stages of Russia’s involvement in World War I, the Russian people became increasingly disapproving of the Russian monarchy and a growing famine. After years of continuing his father’s autocratic style of ruling and ignoring calls for reform, the communist revolution managed to oust the royal family. On March 15th, Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate his throne and he and his entire family were arrested and exiled to Siberia for over a year. In the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918, the Romanov family were summoned to the basement and executed. The only member of the immediate family that escaped assassination was Nicolas’ mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Federovna. She managed to smuggle the last Imperial Easter egg she received from her son Nicholas, the Order of St. George egg.
Some critics of the Romanov family say that the Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs are perfect examples of a decadent monarchy that was out of touch with their people. However, jewelry lovers and jewelry historians appreciate the eggs for what they are: artistic masterpieces. Many of the eggs disappeared after the revolution, sixty-one survived, only to turn up decades later scattered across the globe. Some Russian nationals have started purchasing the historic eggs at auction houses in an effort to bring them back to their homeland. So, how much would an original Fabergé egg or a collection cost? In 2004, the Forbes family sold their nine Imperial eggs to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg for more than $90 million.