They are works of art famous for their elaborate metallic and gem decorations, whose extravagance reminds the world of how powerful the Caesars were, currently worth millions of dollars.
Faberge eggs, about 50 decorative ovals, ordered by the Russian imperial family between 1885 and 1916.
It all began as a gift from Emperor Alexander III to his wife Maria Feodorovna during Easter, which the Orthodox Church celebrates annually.
Tsar Alexander III with Empress Maria Feodorovna and their daughters – Photo: Getty Images / via BBC
But their beauty and privacy made the royal family turn them into a tradition. Every year, the emperor would order his wife a new egg. His legacy was continued by his son Nicholas II after the death of the Tsar.
Today, according to many historians and art experts, these pieces have an “uncountable” value.
Not only for the design, which was in the hands of Peter Carl Faberge, the famous jeweler who gave them their name, but also because of the secret of their whereabouts.
Mysterious eggs have returned to the fore in recent days after US officials said they had found a Russian businessman’s yacht, which was confiscated following sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
But why were Faberge eggs lost?
Peter Carl Faberge was born in Saint Petersburg in 1846, the son of German jeweler Gustav Faberge, a descendant of Huguenots, and Charlotte Youngsted of Denmark.
Peter Carl Faberge, nicknamed the “imperial jeweler” of Tsar Nicholas II – Image: Getty Images / via BBC
With the death of his father, in 1882, he took over a jewelry store located in the Russian capital.
Some biographies claim that in addition to studying with his father, Faberge traveled to Frankfurt and Dresden, Germany to enter the world of jewelry.
After producing the royal family’s first egg, he was able to earn the title of “Jeweler of the Imperial Court”. From there, his career took off.
Peter Carl Faberge shop in 1910 in Saint Petersburg, Russia – Photo: Environmental Protection Agency / via BBC
At some point, the business became so important that he expanded it outside of it Russiaopened stores in London and Odessa.
However, his fame was not only gained through his connection with the Romanov dynasty. Some experts know his immense artistic talent.
“Critics and collectors are torn between praising the Russian jeweler for his perfection or condemning his transgressions,” says Jonathan Glancey, BBC cultural journalist.
“Excessive” Faberge eggs, as critics describe them, require hard and extensive work to create them.
The goldsmith supervised the process, but specialists in different fields, such as diamond cutting or metal manipulation, worked in his workshop.
“The eggs were something exceptional,” Glancey notes.
Faberge house in Saint Petersburg in 1920. The company is best known for the jeweler’s relationship with the Russian imperial family – Image: Getty Images / via BBC
Some were covered with thin layers of varnish or precious stones obtained from the Urals or the Altai Mountains.
And inside the eggs, the royal family always found a surprise. It could be anything from a miniature music box and an 18th century Gatchina mansion to an elephant.
Others, Glancey adds, like the first, known as the “chicken egg,” “had an almost pure design.”
This first egg, currently in the Faberge Museum in Saint Petersburg, is one of the most famous.
The ‘chicken egg’ was the first egg made by Faberge for the Russian royal family – Image: Getty Images / via BBC
It is a small piece of white enamel that measures approximately 1 1/2 inches.
Inside, as usual, there was a hidden treasure: a second golden egg, with a golden chicken inside.
Below the small figure was a diamond-set crown and a sapphire necklace.
Why did I lose some eggs?
The reign of the legendary Romanov dynasty ended in 1917, when the Bolshevik Revolution took control of it Russia.
Nicholas II, his wife, and their five daughters were shot in 1918 and the crown estates were nationalized.
The same fate befell the house of Faberge, which forced Peter Karl to leave the country.
The goldsmith died two years later in Switzerland.
The “Third Imperial Egg” on display in London, UK – Image: Getty Images / via BBC
Glancey adds that the eggs were “packaged” with other Romanov treasures and transported to the Kremlin.
But years later, Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, sold 14 of these eggs to attract foreign currency to the United States Russia.
Some of the eggs ended up in private collections, museums, and other institutions. However, the whereabouts of seven of them is unknown.
The “laurel tree”, one of Faberge’s eggs, is in the Museum of Saint Petersburg, Russia – Image: GETTY IMAGES / via BBC
After the decline of the jewelry, the famous title was taken over and registered in the United States in 1937 by Samuel Rubin for the sale of perfume.
In 1951, Robin agreed to pay the Faberge family to use the name, but not just for decorative items.
The brand ended up being the name for a line of sanitary products, such as detergent and tub cleaner.
It has also been used in an aftershave lotion.
Security looks at a 2007 Faberge egg during a Christie’s auction – Image: GETTY IMAGES/Via BBC
But after complex negotiations, the name was rescued in 2007 by Pallinghurst Resources, an international investment advisory firm, and Fabergé Ltd. was established.
Tatiana and Sarah Faberge took over the granddaughter of Peter Carl Faberge with the aim of manufacturing luxury goods and jewelry.
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