«Expensive things interest me little if the value is merely in so many diamonds and pearls».

This is a quote by Peter Carl Fabergé, who considered himself an artist-jeweller, well aware of instilling in his works a creative value that went far beyond carats and Momme. Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) descended from a Huguenot family originally from Picardy, forced to leave Catholic France in 1685 after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes which had until then guaranteed protection to French Protestants. Over the centuries and while heading East, his ancestors changed the original surname from Favri through Favry, Fabri, Fabrier to Faberge. It was Carl’s father, Gustav Faberge, arriving in St. Petersburg in the 1830s, who changed his surname to Fabergé and founded the goldsmith company of the same name that his son would lead to incomparable excellence. In 1864 Peter Carl completed a Grand Tour of Europe that would prove a turning point for him: he was welcomed and trained by great goldsmiths, he attended artistic and commercial courses, and visited museums across the continent. Returning to St. Petersburg, he was called to restore the masterpieces of the Jewellery Gallery of the Hermitage.

This allowed him to truly hone his knowledge of enamelling and the goldsmithing techniques of the past, thanks to which in 1882, now owner of his father’s jewellery, he showcased jewellery of exceptional workmanship at a pan-Russian exhibition in Moscow, which bewitched empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of Alexander III Romanov. From that moment fame and fortune were inseparable companions for Peter Carl Fabergé, who knew how to innovate the concept of colour in jewellery, exalting the shimmer of gems and using a fanciful and majestic enamel palette still unmatched today. In 1885 he was appointed official jeweller of the Imperial Court and in the same year the tsar commissioned him to make a special Easter egg for Maria Feodorovna to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their engagement. It was the first of over 50 famous Easter eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé, a masterpiece made with incredible skill that concealed its stunning surprise in a “matryoshka” structure: a white egg covered with matt enamel containing a golden yolk that in turn contained a golden hen concealing a miniature copy of the imperial crown with an egg-shaped ruby! Fabergé’s eggs soon became famous throughout Europe for their sophisticated creation and original themes they drew inspiration from each time (and which remained hidden also from the tsar until being presented with the gift!). When the Russian empire was dissolved, they suffered various fates: some were bought by the new government, while others were resold inside and outside Russia, or even destroyed or lost: nine are currently kept at the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg. They have unquestionably become part of the collective imagination as an emblem of magnificence, so much so that they appear, a century after their creation, in successful films such as 007 Octopussy, The Code, Ocean’s Twelve and The Intouchables!

The twentieth century opened with the triumph of the Fabergé jewellery house at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, awards and honours came from all over Europe, the House, at the height of fame, was then the largest Russian goldsmith factory and employed over 500 craftsmen and designers, branches opened in Moscow, London and Kiev, throughout Europe but also in America and the Far East noble and royal, magnates and collectors competed to buy jewellery and creations: all the pieces, jewellery, objects, beautiful animal figurines were highly sought after. The Russian Revolution decreed in one fell swoop the end of the Romanovs and the end of the Maison, the factory was nationalised and entrusted to the Committee of Employees of the Company K. Fabergé, the stock in the warehouse was confiscated. Peter Carl secretly fled and eventually took refuge with his family in Switzerland where he died a few years later, a man that biographies describe as fragile and broken. The heirs founded Fabergé & Cie in Paris, but times and styles had changed and in 1951 the family lost the rights to the name and transferred them to an American entrepreneur. After several changes of ownership, in 1990 the historic German company Victor Mayer held a licence with the task of resuming production – the founder’s heirs are still Fabergé workmasters. The happy ending came in 2007, when the Pallinghurst Resources fund acquired the Fabergé brand from the multinational Unilever with all the associated rights and licenses and created the Fabergé ltd for the production of jewellery: the Fabergé name was finally reunited with the Fabergé family (Sarah Fabergé, great-granddaughter of Peter Carl, is now in charge of special projects). Since then, the house of Fabergé, taken over in 2013 by Gemfields Group, supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones, has returned to compete on international markets, drawing inspiration from its extraordinary history but turning it into an artistic language fitting for today. Its pieces, the result of exceptional craftsmanship and technique, revive the sense of colour, creativity, festivity and the ability to surprise of the origins, combined with contemporary themes and techniques. In the last decade – almost to close a circle broken with the October Revolution – the maison – also a proud member of the Responsible Jewellery Council – has won major awards in the watch sector, has started important collaborations (such as the unforgettable ones in 2018 with Rolls-Royce for the creation of an extraordinary Imperial-style egg and the one in 2021 which resulted in a masterpiece like the Fabergé x Game of Thrones Egg), has played a leading role in celebratory exhibitions, and returned to grace fairs and glamorous events. Fabergé creations are available by appointment in the London boutique, where customers also have the opportunity to assist in creating bespoke pieces, “working” side by side with the designers of the maison, from Harrods to London, to the Dubai Mall, in the Houston boutique and at prestigious international stores. As well as online, at faberge.com: intangible bridge between past glories and future success.

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