Faberge was much more than eggs!

First off, I love Faberge eggs! Beautiful and exquisite, I have been fascinated with the history and tragedy behind these amazing objects since I was a teenager. In fact, I vividly remember coveting and scheming how to purchase a set of 12 reproductions when I was about 16 years old. As I was pondering how to display them properly, I shared my plans with my mom and my best friend. Unfortunately, they weren’t as enthusiastic about Faberge as I was….

Some of Faberge’s beautiful eggs
Some of Faberge’s beautiful eggs

Faberge’s eggs and his relationship with the Russian royal family have always gotten the most attention. But as I learned more about Peter Carl Faberge (1846 – 1920), I realized that eggs were only a portion of his portfolio of work. So I put together a list (because I love lists!) of things you may not have know about him. Here goes!

1. Jewelry more than eggs

Peter Faberge was one of the most prominent jewelers of his time. His workshops all over Russia employed over 500 artisans. And they produced thousands of pieces of jewelry. Faberge was influenced by art from all over the world, as well as ancient and modern styles.

Brooches and a necklace from Faberge
Brooches and a necklace from Faberge, highlighting focus on detail and design

His jewelry was unique. Instead of focusing on the size of the gems, he focused more on the design. Peter used precious and semi-precious stones. Not just gold and silver, but malachite, jade, rock crystal, and lapis lazuli. He carved gems. He used enamel extensively. Everyone could tell his work was unlike anything that had been seen before. It wasn’t too long before he had plenty of patrons clamoring for his work.

A beautiful aquamarine and diamond tiara from Faberge
A beautiful aquamarine and diamond tiara from Faberge

Of course, very little of the jewelry survives today. Lots was either destroyed or melted down during the Revolution that followed.

Faberge – father and sons

The House of Faberge officially began with Gustav Faberge, Peter’s father. A master goldsmith, he had a shop in St. Petersburg starting in 1841. Peter and his brother, Agathon, both joined their dad after they trained and apprenticed in Europe.  Peter joined when he was only 18, and officially took over from his father when he was 26. He was also designated a master goldsmith.