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Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs
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Faberge Eggs
Treasures of the World

© Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

Mementos of a Doomed DynastyNicholas and Romanov RussiaNicholas and AlexandraThe tragic events that followed the coronation of Nicholas IIBloody SundaySigns of revolutionThe inventive young FabergeFaberge's growing fameThe Faberge Imperial Easter eggs featured in the SeriesThe House of FabergeThe workshops and workmastersFaberge the manOutrageous opulenceFragile remembrancesThe fate of the eggs

The inventive young Faberge

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Born Peter Carl Faberge in 1846, he would become the most famous goldsmith of his time. Son of jeweler Gustav Faberge, owner of a small silver and jewelry shop in St. Petersburg,
Carl Faberge was well-trained in the jeweler's art by apprenticeships in the major centers of the European decorative arts. By the time Carl was twenty, he had also received a solid foundation in economics and commercial affairs.

When Carl took over his father's jewelry firm in 1872 at the age of twenty-four, it was not much different from several other workshops catering to the upper classes of St. Petersburg. But the young Faberge was determined to distinguish the family name. Jewelry and the decorative arts of the day had previously been valued by the size and weight of the precious stones and metals. In a departure from such gaudy ostentation, and with the help of his younger brother Agathon, a talented designer and valued advisor, Faberge eagerly formulated a new aesthetic, which he hoped would capture the fancy of the Russian aristocracy.

According to Faberge collector Christopher Forbes,"His feeling was that it should be creativity and craftsmanship rather than carat-content that dictated the appreciation of a piece Ц and he certainly had a wonderful sense of humor. So his pieces caught the attention of Alexander III, who admired them as examples of Russian genius."

"And here you see the shrewd man, the businessman," says author and Faberge expert, Geza von Habsburg. "He worked for an institution called the Imperial Cabinet, which was in charge of all the treasures of the Czars in the Hermitage. And he worked there free-of-charge and repaired things, appraised things, and so on." Having earned the recognition of this prestigious organization by virtue of his expertise in the task of restoring its collections, Faberge was invited in 1882 to participate in the Moscow Pan-Russian Exhibition, where he earned a gold medal and a good deal of press for his innovative work. It was at this event that Czar Alexander III and his wife, Maria Fedorovna, became acquainted with the House of Faberge, captivated by the exquisite display of jewels and objects de luxe.

In 1885, Faberge's hard work, meticulous standards and shrewd positioning paid off when he was given the highest honor possible for a jeweler: an appointment as "Supplier to the Court of His Imperial Majesty." That same year he received the now famous order from the Czar to create the first Imperial Easter egg for the Czarina.

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