The Story of Fabergé’s Fabulous Eggs

By | June 29, 2019

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The 1895 Blue Serpent Clock Egg by Faberge on display at Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery exhibition titled The Romanovs and the Grimaldi. Three Centuries of History (XVII-XIX) Source: (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)

On Easter Day in 1885, the Russian Czar, Alexander III of House Romanov, gave to his wife, Czarina Marie Fedorovna an egg. It looked like a ducks egg, with a gold band about the middle. But when she opened it, she found to her delight a perfect golden yolk, and within that, a golden hen sitting on a golden nest. Inside the hen, was a diamond miniature of the imperial crown, which hid a small ruby pendant.

This egg, known as the First Hen Egg, or the Jewelled Hen Egg, was the first in a line of Carl Fabergé’s Imperial Eggs that have awed the world for their beauty, detail, and cleverness.

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Peter Carl Faberge. Source: (Wikipedia)

Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920)

Carl Fabergé’s ancestors were French protestants who left France in 1685 when Louis XIV repealed the Edict of Nantes which had guaranteed religious toleration. The family migrated east, eventually settling in the Russian Empire. They took on various, similar names: Favry, Fabri, Fabrier and finally Fabergé. The name derives from the Latin word “faber” meaning “maker.” This was propitious since at least Carl Fabergé’s father, Gustav, was a master goldsmith and Carl was destined to become one of the most noted jewelers in history. The name change to Fabergé may have been an attempt by the family to ingratiate itself with the Russian aristocracy, which spoke French and looked at France as the source of high culture. In any case, Fabergé set up shop in St. Petersburg in 1842 under the name House of Fabergé. Carl took over the business after training abroad with jewelers in England, Italy, Paris, and Frankfurt. He had developed a vision, beyond just the assemblage of lots of “bling” and valued art and statement. He said later in life, “Expensive things interest me little if the value is merely in so many diamonds or pearls.”