When we think of Fabergé, we think of the fabled gemstone and precious metal eggs the legendary Russian master jeweler made for the doomed Imperial family, the Romanovs. But the House of Fabergé was renowned firstly for fine craftsmanship and intricate jewelry designs.
Peter Carl Fabergé (1846- 1920) was of French descent but was born in St. Petersburg. He took over his father's modest jewelry store and together with his brother Agathon, they grew the business grew and attracted the attention and patronage of the Russian aristocracy and the Imperial family.
Peter Carl Fabergé's design philosophy was simple - the value of the design and craftsmanship should far exceed the worth of the materials used. By the early 1900's they had won international recognition for their exquisite work. The brothers' enterprise was not small - they employed some 500 people in their heyday. Think you have a rough working life? Their working hours were from 7 am - 11 pm. Sundays were shorter - 8 am- 1 pm!
All that success ended with the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Bolsheviks took over and nationalized the business. Fabergé fled the country and died a few years later in Switzerland. The family eventually lost control of the brand and one point the Fabergé name was used to sell cosmetics, fragrance and trinkets.
But now after a gap of over 90 years, a new luxury collection worthy of the name has been launched. The South African Pallingham Resources took over the Fabergé brand from the previous owner Unilever and made the decision to refocus on what the name is best known for. The lead team includes Katharina Flohr, the new creative director, Frédéric Zaavy, the French artisan jeweler and Peter Carl Fabergé's great-grand-daughter, Tatiana Fabergé, who is the head of the Fabergé Heritage Council tasked to preserve the Fabergé legacy. The last surviving descendant serves as an adviser on the project.
There are 100 magnificent pieces with hefty price tags ranging from $58,000 - $10 million. The Sadko Sea Horse brooch ($320,000) is my favorite. The name comes from the Russian fairy tale of Sadko the Bard. This piece boasts white diamonds demantoids, alexandrites, paraiba tourmalines, tsarovites and violet sapphires.
Again inspired by another favorite of Russian fairy tales is the Fire Bird Brooch ( $335,000). There are colored diamonds, pink and Padparadscha sapphires, rubies, amethysts, opals and moonstones in this design.
Flowers were luxuries in 19th century Russia so they were Peter Carl Fabergé favorite design motifs. The Red Hibiscus Cuff ($560,000) acknowledges the original designer's preferences. This bracelet has 2,300 stones including over 30 carats of rubies! The Russian Imperial family loved all sorts of gemstones but they were said to view rubies in a poorer light because the color of the gemstone symbolized the shedding of Royal blood. There is probably not much truth to that tale because there are many known examples of Tsarist jewelry with this gemstone.
This poppy ring ($262,000) is drop dead gorgeous with a 4 carat pink- orange Padparadscha sapphire and a variety of color diamonds. It's a glorious design mixing in 3 different precious metals - platinum, gold and silver.
Interestingly, the Fabergé company store is an online one but there are no carts. Interested buyers will be matched with personal sales assistants who will fly from Geneva for private showings.
Fabergé unveils its first jewelry collection in 90 years
Fabergé takes new jewels online
A. Kenneth Snowman (1990)The Master Jewelers. Harry Abrams New York.
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