Fab­u­lous­fab­u­lous Faberge re­nais­sance

The Press - Zest - - Jewellery -

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.

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