Imperial Eggstravagance

Faberge Gatchina Palace Egg 1901

Faberge Clover Leaf Egg 1902

Faberge Rose Trellis Egg 1907

Every year I post an image of my favourite Easter egg and being a girl who loves jewels it has to be a Faberge egg! So this year it got me thinking about the story behind these gorgeous works of art and whether they were born of love.

I discovered that these stunning eggs are a legacy of the Russian Imperial family and through Faberge's creations from 1885 through to 1916 threads a story of love denied, forced marriage, endurance, triumph and tragedy. 

The story began in 1885, when Emperor Alexander III decided to give a gold Easter egg to his wife the Empress Marie Fedorovna, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal.

Their marriage did not start well as Alexander had already fallen madly in love with his mother's lady-in-waiting, Princess Maria Elimovna Meshcherskaya. Dismayed to learn that she was already engaged, he told his parents that he was prepared to give up his rights of succession in order to marry his beloved "Dusenka".

However, duty outweighed love and he was forced to marry Princess Dagmar of Denmark, (later known as Empress Marie Fedorovna) who was already grief stricken by the sudden death of her first fiancée, Alexander's elder brother, Nicholas.

Alexander must have grown fond of Dagmar as he commissioned Fabergé to create a precious Easter egg as a surprise for his Empress.

The Emperor gave detailed instructions regarding the design of the first imperial Easter egg, making further suggestions to Fabergé as the project progressed. Easter was the most important occasion of the year in the Russian Orthodox Church, equivalent to Christmas in the West.

Known as the Hen Egg, it is crafted from gold, its opaque white enamelled ‘shell’ opening to reveal its first surprise, a matt yellow gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multi-coloured, superbly chased gold hen that also opens. Originally, this contained a minute diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a small ruby pendant egg was suspended. 

The Empress’s delight at this intriguing gift with its hidden jewelled surprises was the starting point for the yearly Imperial tradition that continued for 32 years until 1917 and produced the most opulent and captivating Easter gifts the world has ever seen. The eggs were private and personal gifts bringing great surprise and delight.

Although the theme of the Easter eggs changed annually, the element of surprise remained a constant link between them. The surprises ranged from a perfect miniature replica of the Coronation carriage, a mechanical swan and an ivory elephant, to a heart-shaped frame on an easel with 11 miniature portraits of members of the Imperial family.

Alexander III presented an egg each year to his wife the Empress Marie Fedorovna and the tradition was continued, from 1895, by his son Nicholas II.

Following his father's lead Nicholas II continued the tradition of presenting an egg annually to both his wife the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna and to his mother the Dowager Empress Marie Fedorovna. He too had a struggle with his parents to marry the woman he loved but he won his battle and married Alix immediately after his father's death. 

One of the most expensive was the 1913 Winter Egg, which was invoiced at 24,600 roubles equivalent to £2.36 million in today’s money.

Of course the tradition stopped with political unrest and the story ends with the tragic execution of Nicholas, Alexandra and their children.

The world is left with the gorgeous, richly decorated eggs to enjoy, an enduring legacy, each telling a story and revealing a surprise. The eggs have continued to inspire designers and crafters and today and modern interpretations are still enjoyed.

To see more of Faberge and Faberge inspired eggs check out our Pinterest page here.

TMV Spring mood board inspired by Faberge's Lilly-of-the-Valley Egg 1898

TMV mood board inspired by Fabe's Cradle with Garlands Egg 1807

TMV mood board inspired by The House of Faberge jewelled eggs

These gorgeous works of art have inspired me to create some bridal mood boards, with a hint of Russia, richness of textures and sheer elegance. We hope your enjoy them.

If you've enjoyed this royal story you will love our accessories, fit for an Empress these three headdresses will not fail in ensuring you feel like royalty on your very special day. Click the images to see more....

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