The History Of The Fabergé Egg


Commonly seen as a symbol of wealth and luxury, the golden, gem-encrusted Fabergé eggs were originally designed in the 19th century. They’ve remained a popular subject of artistic admiration ever since. Whilst the eggs are often given as gifts to commemorate births, weddings, anniversaries, and other important occasions, they have a rich, elusive history, which only adds to their exclusivity and charm.

The Origins Of The Fabergé Egg

The House of Fabergé was founded in 1842 by Gustav Fabergé. Originally a simple jewellery firm, Fabergé eggs became the company’s trademark piece after the founder’s son, Peter Carl Fabergé, designed and created the first egg in 1885. Throughout their marriage, the Tsar and his wife enjoyed a tradition of giving each other ornate eggs as Easter presents, and in 1885 they commissioned Fabergé to create a special jewelled egg.

The original Fabergé egg was known as the Hen Egg. It was believed to have been inspired by an ivory egg created for the Danish Royal Collection in the early 18th century. Made of solid gold and completely covered with a layer of ivory enamel to resemble a real hen’s egg, it opened with a bayonet-style fitting to reveal a golden ‘yolk’ inside. Within that a varicoloured gold hen sat on a nest of golden straw, set with eyes of rubies. Inside the hen lay two further surprises — a miniature diamond replica of the Imperial crown and a ruby pendant — two elements that have since been lost. The Tsar’s wife loved the piece so much, Fabergé was appointed as a “goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown,” giving him complete freedom to design future Imperial Easter eggs.

Throughout his lifetime, Peter Carl Fabergé designed and created nearly 70 of his famous crystal-covered eggs, not only for the Tsar and his family, but for private clients as well. Each egg took about 1-2 years to complete and was entirely unique in design. But the eggs also shared similar features — the opulent, extravagant exterior and the special surprise hidden within — which have since become synonymous with the brand.

Fabergé Eggs Today

Following the nationalisation of the House of Fabergé’s workshop, the Fabergé family moved to France. Here, the company continued making similar items and their reputation as a luxury jewellery manufacturer kept growing. Today, the eggs remain as sought-after as ever, and the original imperial pieces sell for an average of £2million.

The popularity of the eggs is only heightened by their appearance in publications and major exhibitions, such as those at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2022 and the Royal Collection in 2003. Many celebrities now collect Fabergé pieces too. The late Joan Rivers’ estate sold £1.7million worth of Fabergé at auction, for example.

As of 2022, Fabergé takes pride in maintaining their world-renowned design, whilst ensuring that all the gems and crystals used in their designs are responsibly sourced. By closely monitoring the integrity and legitimacy of the materials used in their designs, the company gives back to the community from which their stones come from.

This desire for sustainability and ethicality is beginning to reflect throughout the jewellery industry. Not only are brands increasingly considering the craftsmanship of their work, but the environmental and social impact they are having on the world as well. In this way, the industry is evolving beyond jewellery; instead, becoming a reflection of the more eco-conscious world we live in.

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