Fabulousfabulous Faberge renaissance
For the first time since the tsars ruled Russia, Faberge has created one of its famous jewelled eggs. The jeweller, now based in London, is hoping to continue the rehabilitation of its brand with the creation of 12 unique pendant eggs costing up to US$600,000 (NZ$770,800) each.
The Faberge name is synonymous with the eggs created by Peter Carl Faberge for Russia’s rulers from 1885 until the revolution in 1917.
These ornate and heavily jewelled ‘‘Imperial’’ eggs can fetch more than US$10M at auction but history has not been kind to the Faberge name. The brand was acquired by a succession of companies, including Elizabeth Arden and Unilever, but went steadily downmarket: in the 1970s and 1980s Faberge was better known for its Brut fragrances.
Unilever, which owns Wall’s icecream and Lynx deodorants, sold the brand four years ago to an investment vehicle set up by Brian Gilbertson, a South African mining mogul. ‘‘When we bought the brand our aim was to restore it to its former glory,’’ he says.
The company held off creating its first egg until some of the tarnish from its Brut days had worn off but now Faberge is again producing high-end jewellery, including necklaces made from precious stones, which can cost up to US$7M each.
‘‘This is a defining moment in the renaissance of Faberge because the eggs are inextricably linked with the Faberge name,’’ Gilbertson says.
The pendant ‘‘eggs’’ are about the size of a Cadbury creme egg. One of the most impressive is the Diamond Egg, made from 385 diamonds held in a titanium lattice.
Another new piece is the US$480,000 Diaghilev Egg, made from white gold set with 2012 24-carat rubies and diamonds.
The company is also introducing a range of cheaper, standardised eggs that will cost from US$8000 each.
Having returned to the eggs that made the Faberge name, the jewellers are planning to create egg art objects referencing the original imperial designs.
Katharina Flohr, the company’s managing director, says, ‘‘we are in the process of looking at larger objects but these items can take maybe two, three or four years to make, so we have to know there is a customer for them’’.
There has been a movement in Russia since the end of communism to return the Faberge eggs to the country.
Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch, is said to have paid US$100M to buy nine eggs from Malcolm Forbes, the publishing billionaire. He now owns 15 of the famous Faberge eggs: the world’s largest collection. The Times
Gemstone treasure: Known as the Alexander Palace Egg, this gemstone treasure madeby Peter Carl Faberge is 10cm tall.