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The Fabulous Fabergé Eggs of The Russian Imperial Family

 Easter is the most important celebration for Russian Orthodox Christians, just as Christmas is in the West. Devoted Christians bring hand-painted eggs to church to be blessed, and then present them to family and friends.

In 1885, the Russian Tsar Alexander III also decided to gift his wife an Easter egg, but it was not an ordinary hen's egg, as it was not an ordinary year. 1885 marked the twentieth wedding anniversary of the Tsar and his wife Tsarina Maria Fedorovna, and the Tsar needed an extraordinary gift to impress his wife. So Alexander commissioned the royal jeweler Peter Carl Faberge to make for himself the most precious Easter egg.


Following the instructions of the emperor himself, Faberge designed a beautiful white enameled egg that looked like a real egg, but when opened, revealed a golden yolk inside. Inside the yolk was a golden hen, and inside the hen were hidden a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a small ruby ​​egg. Empress Maria was so pleased with the gift that Alexander appointed Faberge "goldsmith by special appointment in the Imperial Crown" and instructed him to make a new Easter egg each year, and a tradition was born.

Faberge had to design a unique egg each year, and each egg had to contain a small surprise. Fabergé and his team of highly skilled craftsmen worked on each egg in complete secrecy for several months. The Tsar did not even know in what form the eggs would be. Faberge chose each design to represent the royal family, or milestones and achievements of the Romanov dynasty, such as the fifteenth anniversary of Nicholas II's accession to the throne, or to commemorate the three-hundredth anniversary of the House of Romanovs.

Surprise also had a constant relationship with the Imperial Court. These ranged from a miniature replica of the coronation carriage, to the heart-shaped frame on the easel with 11 miniature portraits of members of the royal family. All the eggs were made of precious metals such as gold and platinum and were studded with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and other precious gems. One of the most expensive was the 1913 Winter Egg, which would have cost £2.36 million in today's money. The egg was auctioned in 2002 for US$9.6 million.

After the death of Tsar Alexander III, his son Nicholas II carried on the tradition. Since 1894, Peter Karl Faberge has produced two eggs each year—one for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Nicholas II, and one for his mother, Maria Feodorovna. Over a period of thirty-two years, until the Russian Revolution of 1917, which saw the end of the Tsar's rule, Goldsmith and his company produced fifty of the most lavish and extravagant Easter eggs the world has ever seen for the royal family. They became Fabergé's greatest and most enduring achievement.

Forty-three of the original fifty eggs still survive today. These rare and million dollar Easter eggs are now in the hands of various private collectors, museums and institutions around the world.







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