Legendary jeweler Carl Fabergé was the creator of the unique Easter eggs. Read how the story of the jewelry house began and where it has led today.
The "Winter" egg by Fabergé
Carl Fabergé created only 52 luxurious jeweled eggs, which members of the Russian Tsar's family gave to each other as unusual Easter gifts. Fabergé subsequently made similar eggs for other noble clients outside the imperial family.
The first Fabergé egg was commissioned by Emperor Alexander III as an Easter gift for his wife Maria Feodorovna. Called a "hen", the egg is made of gold and covered with white enamel, while the "yolk" of brushed yellow gold contains a small golden hen. Hidden inside the figure are a miniature of the imperial crown and a ruby pendant - both souvenirs have been lost.
Imperial Easter egg "Peacock", 1908
Karl Fabergé later made the eggs more elaborate, but the surprise inside remained the same detail. Some had a small clock or winding mechanism inside, like the 1908 Peacock Egg, and many of the eggs were created to commemorate significant events, like the 1897 Coronation Egg and the 1900 Trans-Siberian Railway Egg.
Most of the Imperial family's prized possessions, including the eggs, were confiscated by the Bolsheviks during the 1917 Revolution and were lost or destroyed. For many experts, the search for the Fabergé eggs has become a lifelong endeavor.
Fabergé "Hen" Egg: Gold and White Enamel
So where are the famous Fabergé Tsar eggs now? Ten of the surviving specimens are in the Moscow Armoury - currently the largest collection of eggs. Three of the eggs belong to Queen Elizabeth; Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg bought nine eggs from Malcolm Forbes for $100 million in 2004 and had them returned.
A third imperial Easter egg, thought lost for 122 years, was recently discovered in 2014. An American found it at a flea market in the US and tried to sell it without knowing where it came from. It is not known how the egg made its way to the American Midwest, but the story is impressive.
The new imperial Fabergé egg, released in 2015.
The rest of the eggs are scattered around the world and kept in museums, such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which has 5 of them. The jewelry house itself wants to continue the tradition of making unique Easter eggs.