Easter was an important holiday in the Russian Orthodox Church, and there was a centuries-old tradition of bringing hand-colored eggs to church to be blessed and then presented to loved ones. In the 19th century, among St. Petersburg high society, this egg blessing custom evolved into gifting bejeweled Easter gifts. In 1885, Emperor Alexander III commissioned Peter Carl Fabergé, the legendary artist and jeweler, to create a golden Easter egg for the Empress Marie Fedorovna. This was the first Imperial Easter Egg, known as the Hen Egg — a finely crated golden egg with a white enamel shell. The shell opened to reveal a gold yolk, which also opened to reveal a multi-color gold hen. The gold hen also contained a surprise – a small diamond replica of the Imperial crown and a small ruby egg pendant. The Empress was so delighted with her Easter gift that the tradition continued for 32 years in the Imperial family.
Each of the Imperial Easter Eggs took over a year to create, and involved a team of highly skilled craftsmen and artists. To create these unique eggs, Fabergé took inspiration from daily court life and milestones or achievements of the Romanov family, such as the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg of 1911. This egg was created to celebrate the anniversary of Nicholas II’s accession to the throne. A total of 50 Fabergé Imperial Eggs were made and 43 have survived. These Fabergé Eggs are considered to the ultimate collector’s item, and even Queen Elizabeth II keeps 3 Fabergé Eggs in the Royal Collection. Most of the Fabergé are still in Russia, and the Kremlin Armoury Museum is the largest owner with 10 eggs in their collection.
Shop these pieces inspired by Fabergé and the Imperial Easter Eggs