Fabergé eggs are admired around the world for their exquisite, jaw-dropping details. The Russian imperial-era decorative eggs have stunned many viewers, sparking their curiosity about how these beautiful objects came to be created. Here’s what you need to know about how they came about, who’s behind them, and where they are now.
The Fabergé eggs were created from 1855 to 1916 specifically for the Russian imperial family. Back then, the Fabergé company was run by Peter Carl Fabergé, a Russian jeweller who was quickly gaining attention for his skillful designs. The first ever Fabergé egg was created for Tsar Alexander III as an Easter gift to his wife, the Danish princess Maria Feodorovna, who was feeling homesick for her home country. Feodorovna was so happy about the present that she appointed Peter Carl Fabergé the jeweller to the Imperial Court, and commissioned more eggs over the years. Fabergé had complete creative control over the eggs, and around 50 were made.
The Hen Egg, 1885
This was the first egg in the series. The two white outer halves of the shell twist out to reveal a matte gold core, like the yolk of an egg. The yolk itself then opens up to small golden hen statue, adorned with ruby eyes.
Imperial Coronation Egg, 1897
One of the most famous Fabergé eggs, the Imperial Coronation Egg was made for Emperor Nicholas II to gift his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, to mark their coronation. The egg is made from gold embellished with yellow enamel, and criss-crossed with black double-headed eagle symbols decorated with diamonds. The egg opens up to reveal a small red and gold carriage.
Lilies of the Valley Egg, 1898
An egg in the style of art nouveau that is topped with photos of Tsar Nicholas II and his two daughters, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana. The Lilies of the Valley is covered in pearls and topped with translucent rose enamel. The leaves of the lily are decorated with rose-cut diamonds.
Peacock Egg, 1908
This deceptively rock crystal egg opens up to hold a decorative peacock sitting amidst an engraved gold tree. The peacock itself can be wound up, and then struts around when placed on a flat surface.
The Winter Egg, 1913
This 1913 Easter egg was made to resemble frost and snowflakes. It is made of rock crystal, platinum, and rose diamonds. The egg opens up to a little shelf for the flower bouquet shown on the left. Each flower was carved from a single piece of white quartz, and the flower basket is decorated with 1378 diamonds.
Where are they now
After the Russian imperial family lost their mandate to rule following the national revolution of 1917, many of the eggs were briefly lost. In the UK, there are three original Fabergé eggs in the Queen’s Royal Collection. While not every Fabergé egg has been found, 43 have been recovered and are on display in museums or collections across the world. And for some, the hunt continues. Art dealers were shocked to discover in 2014 that the third egg ever made, valued at $20 million, belonged to a local antiques buyer in the American midwest who had no idea of the history behind the decoration sitting on his shelf!