It was in 1842 that Gustav Fabergé, whose ancestors had fled their native France when the Huguenots were driven out, opened a shop in St. Petersburg. He later lived in Dresden, entrusting his business to loyal managers, and there he must have seen the masterpieces created by Dinglinger and admired the bejewelled, richly enamelled pieces he created. His sons, Peter Karl Fabergé and Agathon also shared their fathers passion. Returning to St. Petersburg in 1872 Carl took over the business and became engaged in restoring pieces housed in the Hermitage and the Fabergé reputation grew. Initially the Fabergé focus was jewellery but then they began to produce a range of richly garnished and enamelled items. Agathon was a talented designer.
Jewelled eggs were not new but they were usually smaller than those famous, fabulous creations so inextricably linked with the Fabergé name and created for royalty and the rich.
It was in 1885 that the Tsar, Alexander III commissioned an Easter egg as a gift for his wife Maria. In the same year the House of Fabergé became “Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown”. The order for an Easter egg was repeated each year. Each was to contain a surprise and they became increasingly lavish. His son when he became Tsar would request two each year, one for his wife and one for his mother. The one for the Tsarina in 1895 enclosed a yellow rosebud within its richly red enamelled shell, further surprises lay hidden within the rose; whilst the one produced in the year of Nicholas’ coronation held a copy of the eighteenth century Imperial coach in which Alexandra had travelled to the coronation.
The tradition lives on
The skills of guilloché, machine engraving, displayed on the Imperial eggs and the skills of the enameller continue. That skill rests with men like Victor Meyer into whose hands Fabergé and Co. entrusted their legacy. The engraver’s skill is not lost in the enamelling of a piece but gleams through the enamel, frequently embellished by jewels, carefully mounted or inlaid.
The World Egg
Sometimes referred to as the cosmic egg, the world egg plays a part in a number of creation stories, Chinese, Egyptian, Buddhist and Finnish, for example. Those myths have underpinned the production of the Fabergé World Egg. The egg brings together the wonders of Fabergé and the myth.
The Fabergé World Egg at Leonard Dews
Presented by Leonard Dews, it fulfils the fascination with Fabergé and the jeweller’s art. In Fabergé tradition the egg has been richly fashioned and is in 18 ct. gold and sumptuously decked in diamonds, 2839 diamonds to be precise. There is one more diamond, less conspicuous, on top of the cupola, flawless, 1ct. and placed in two circlets of diamonds. This feature is echoed in the fastening of the cupola to the lower part which has a diamond encircled by one row of diamonds.
The engraving swirls in a continuous form from the top downwards in unbroken line. Each swirl is accentuated by the carefully matched diamonds, precisely set and matched, which follow each curve. Open the egg and the lid is resplendent with diamonds adorning the inner surface.
The whole rests on a slender, curving stem, graceful and delicate. Again there is the guilloche engraving but this time not set with diamonds but delicately enamelled in pink and black, translucent, allowing the guilloche detail, its graceful, sweeping lines to show through.
But every Fabergé egg has to hold a secret within. The world egg has its secret. Within is the world, an orb enamelled in blue and gold. It is when open that the world is visible but so is the cosmos in which it is encompassed, echoing that alternative name, the cosmic egg, because the diamonds within the cupola form the heavens.
Honoured with the Fabergé name
Only originals of the design are afforded the Fabergé name and are granted a unique number and the mark or their creator Victor Mayer, VM.
Work master: Victor Mayer, PForrzheim
Size: Approx. 16 cm
Materials: 18 ct white and yellow gold, 1 diamond (1.00ct.) D Flawless, total diamonds 2,839 (56 ct), onyx