Faberge Eggs

1897 Faberge Copy. Jonathan Kitchen / Getty Images

Fabergé History:

The firm was founded in 1842 by jeweler Gustav Fabergé. But it was when son Peter Carl joined the firm that it became more prominent. In 1869 he sold the first pieces to the St. Petersburg Hermitage.

Court Supplier to the Czars:

Court supplier to the last two Russian Czars, Carl Faberge had the honor of using the family crest of the Romanovs in his company logo. It started in 1882 at the Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow.

Maria Feodorovna, wife of the Czar Alexander III purchased a pair of cufflinks from the company for her husband. From then on, Faberge's customers included the rich and noble.

The First Imperial Easter Egg:

In 1885 Fabergé won the Gold Medal at an exhibition in Nuremberg for his replicas of the antique treasures of Kerch. It was also in 1885 that the first Imperial egg was produced. The beautifully simple egg opened up to reveal a yolk. Inside the yolk was a golden hen and inside the hen was a diamond miniature of the crown and a tiny ruby egg.

The egg was a gift to the Czarina Maria. It reminded her of home and each year thereafter, a new egg was commissioned by the Czar and created by Fabergé for the Czarina. The eggs became elaborately more jeweled, conveyed historical meaning and had a hidden surprise.

Each Year Another Imperial Egg:

The Czar gave his wife an egg every year during the Russian Orthodox Easter festival.

From 1895 to 1916, his successor, Nicholas II, gave two Easter eggs each year, one to his wife and one to his mother.

A total of fifty Imperial eggs were made for the Russian Czars, but several have been lost. There were seven additional eggs made for Alexander and Varvara Kelkh.

Imperial Eggs Return to Russia:

Malcolm Forbes had the largest privately owned collection of Faberge eggs and after he died his heirs authorized Sothebys (in 2004) to auction off his large Fabergé collection.

But before the auction took place, a private sale took place and the entire collection was bought by Victor Vekselberg and taken back to Russia.

Not All Eggs are Fabergé:

Often times advertisements will appear for a Fabergé egg or Fabergé reproduction, but unless it's been made by an authorized company, it should not be called Fabergé. Often companies will get around this by calling their eggs Fabergé style.

The Bottom Line:

The history is fascinating, the eggs are exquisite and to collect even the reproductions is only for the those with deep pockets. But there is something about a Fabergé egg that even if you can't own one, you can still enjoy looking at the pictures and, if you're lucky, can view at a museum.

Today there are several ways to own an egg associated with the name of Faberge. There are authorized reproductions of the Imperial eggs, eggs created by the descendants of Carl Faberge and eggs made by the company authorized to use the name Faberge. Confusing? Yes, but like all collecting, always do your research before purchasing!

Fabergé World
The only company licensed and authorized to reproduce the Imperial eggs is Faberge World. They also have an authorized Collector's Society.

The company also produces flatware, crystal, frames, silver pieces and ornaments under the Fabergé name.
NOTE: At the time of this update, this company no longer has an appearance on the Internet, did it close or have it's license changed?

St. Petersburg Collection
Descendants of Peter Carl Fabergé also create eggs in the Fabergé tradition for the St. Petersburg Collection.. If you're intrigued by the history of Fabergé, be sure to read the history of the Fabergé family on the web site. It's the stuff of good mystery novels and includes information on the copyright and trademark of the Fabergé name.

Victor Mayer Jewelers
In 1989, its legal successor, Fabergé Co., New York, appointed the Pforzheim jeweler Victor Mayer as the exclusive worldwide workmaster for Fabergé and authorized it to market the precious Fabergé works of art through the members of the Collegium Fabergé.

Ever since then Victor Mayer has been selling exquisite jewels and Objets d’ Art, and is continuing the life-work of Peter Carl Fabergé.