There are names that crossed decades and became legends on their fields of art. One of those names is Fabergé. The worldwide luxury house became famous because of the great luxury craftsmanship developed from the first foundation days back in in the 19th century when Gustave Fabergé opens his first store in 1842 in Russia. Since then, it is an amazing passionate story, surrounded by exceptional people and amazing objects.
The story in the History, Fabergé: from France to Russia.
In order to understand the roots of such an amazing luxury house, you need to understand the historical context and what what the path of the Fabergé family. It all started in the 17th century in France. The origins of the Fabergé family is in Picardie – France. The Favri ou Fabri family was part of the protestant community. With a true religion war going on because of the revocation of the Edit de Nantes by Louis XIV, many protestants needed to escape France in order to avoid persecutions. Most of them ended up in Switzerland, Germany or Austria. The Fabri family installed themselves in Germany in the city of Schwedt, which is 100km north from Berlin.
In Germany the family change their name into Fabrier or Fabriger, potentially in order to forget the bad past left in France. An interesting fact was that in the beginning of the 18th century, Russia became a new eldorado for artisans, artists and scientists. Why that? It was all thanks to the aim and the visionary spirit of Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia and first emperor of the Russian Empire in 1721. He decided to change the country. He believed that Russia could shine in the world by opening more its doors to western influence. He decided to welcome all craftsmen, artists, musiciens, scientists, businessmen that wanted to develop great projects. With Catherine II the Great (1762), Religious freedom was installed in the country, and this made several huguenots to move to Russia, searching a rich land to prosper and to live in peace. This historical and sociological context certainly explains why Pierre Fabergé decided to move to Russia in 1800. After acquiring the Russian nationality, in 1814 his son Gustave Fabergé is born. Soon we can see in the young Gustave that he is very accurate with his hands and he interest himself to craftsmanship. His father decides then to send the young Gustave to Saint Petersbourg to start a promising career at the famous jeweler André-Ferdinand Spiegel and soon after at the great luxury house Keibel.
The Fabergé saga, a true success story
At the age of 28, Gustave Fabergé opens a jewelry store at Boshaya Morskaya street, which will be the historical headquarters for the brand.
Gustave Fabergé marries Charlotte Jungstedt and they have a son in 1846, Pierre Cari Fabergé (Cari Gustavovich as the Russian tradition). Gustave and Charlotte did not know that their son would become one of the most fantastic jewelers of all times. Pierre Cari Fabergé learned everything at the family business ateliers. After completing his jewelry know-how at Friedmann in Germany (Frankfurt), he travels to France, Italy and the United Kingdom. In the meantime the Fabergé business become more and more successful and its reputation grows in certain elitist circles around the imperial family. In 1870, Pierre Cari Fabergé returns to Saint Petersburg and at the age of 24 become the head of the Fabergé business.
Pierre Cari Fabergé has a great idea, to create decorative objects, that the precision and the quality of details would exceed all standards of that time. This new idea brought a tremendous success to the Fabergé house and a great reputation started to flow in all the country and beyond.
The Imperial eggs and the legend of Fabergé is born
In the second half of the 19th century, the name Fabergé was associated to quality, beauty and perfection. Russian celebrities would regularly order unique pieces from the luxury house: Prince Youssoupoff, Count Stroganoff, the Nobel brothers or Kelch (the magnat of gold mines). How the Tsar Alexander III had the idea to order a Fabergé egg for his wife? In 1885, Alexander III wanted to offer something unique to her wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna. The idea was to celebrate their 20th anniversary of their engagement. Some experts believe the inspiration for an egg came from a decorative egg that his wife aunt had and had fascinated Emperess Fedorovna since she was a child.
Fabergé decided to create the Jeweled Hen Egg or also called the First Hen Egg. The crafting of the first Imperial egg is attributed to Erik Kollin of Fabergé’s workshop. The egg is made of gold completely coated with opaque white enamel to look like a real egg shell. A thin band of gold where the two halves of the shell are joined is visible around the middle of the egg. It is 64 mm (2 1/2 in.) long and 35 mm (1 3/8 in.) wide. The two halves of the outer shell fit together in a bayonet-style fitting which opens when twisted to reveal the surprise.
This first egg was the first of a series of 54 eggs made under the supervision of Pierre Cari Fabergé for the Russian family. The tsarina and the tsar enjoyed the egg so much that Alexander III ordered a new egg from Fabergé for his wife every Easter thereafter. The egg is currently located in Russia as part of the Vekselberg Collection, and is housed in the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The Fabergé saga continued until the first World war and the October revolution in 1917. The company was taken by the employees committee K. Fabergé and Pierre Cari Fabergé leaves Russia at the end of 1918. First he goes to Germany and ends up in Switzerland, in Lausanne. He establishes his residence at the Bellevue hotel in Lausanne, 15 minutes away from LuxuryActivist headquarters 🙂 For decades, the Fabergé eggs entered the house of fame of the most wanted artistic craftsmanship in the world. Some of them became legends.
Today, Fabergé revived and keep the great tradition of quality and beauty.
The heritage of Fabergé survived 2 world wars. Today, the company is owned by Gemfields, the world’s largest producer of ethically-sourced coloured gemstones, and was relaunched in 2007 as the artist jeweller, true to the original house’s ethos and working with the surviving family members: Peter Carl Fabergé great grand-daughters. Fabergé today owns all Fabergé licences. The company proposes several collections of jewelry, timepieces and also decorative pieces and charms.
Fabergé heritage is preserved and kept alive. Currently the luxury house revealed a new egg creation, in the same philosophy than the imperial ones created by Pierre Cari Fabergé 100 years ago.
The Fabergé Pearl Egg is the first egg created in the Imperial class since 1917 where Fabergé name and the Fabergé family have been united. Paying homage to the forthcoming centenary of the last Fabergé imperial eggs ever delivered, Fabergé has crafted an extraordinary one-of-kind egg object in collaboration with the Al-Fardan family, one of the world’s most renowned collectors of pearls.
The object embodies 139 fine, white pearls with a golden lustre, 3’305 diamonds, carved rock crystal and mother-of-pearl set on white and yellow gold. Each pearl adorning the Fabergé Pearl Egg was hand-selected by Hussain Ibrahim Al-Fardan from his private collection. An ingenious mechanism enables the entire outer shell to rotate on its base, simultaneously opening in six sections to unveil its treasure.
As you can see, Fabergé brings back all the ingenuity of the 19th century imperial eggs. True to its original spirit of artistry and innovation, Fabergé continues to create the treasures of tomorrow, precious hand-crafted jewels set with exceptional gemstones to pass from generation to generation.
You can discover more about Fabergé by visiting the company website: http://www.faberge.com.
When legendary know-how expresses the best, the beautiful and the exceptional, only amazing things can follow.
Info sourced at Fabergé official information, wikipedia, the history russian museum, faberge museum and rum.ru. Images courtesy of The FORBES Collection, New York All Rights Reserved.