The most glorious Easter eggs of all
Around 1885, Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé took the decoration of eggs to new heights. He volunteered to create a jewelry egg for Czar Alexander III to give his wife, Marie. Fabergé kept the egg a secret, but delighted the royal family with an ordinary looking "egg," but with tiny surprises made of gold, enamel, and precious gems inside. There were a total of 52 created for the royal family, and 69 in total. 57 survive today.
Gifts for the Czar
Throughout Alexander's reign, only one Fabergé egg was made each year. It was presented to the Czar at Easter. When Nicholas II ascended the throne, Fabergé began making two eggs, one for the new Czar to give his wife, Alexandra, and the other for the Czar's mother. He also made several eggs for a wealthy gold mine owner in Siberia, as well as individual eggs for different prominent families around Europe.
An Easter Surprise
As it was being made, each egg was a closely guarded secret. Inside, each contained a surprise.
Each egg was a masterpiece. In 1891, for example, Fabergé presented the Azova egg, carved from a solid piece of green jasper and covered with gold and diamond scrollwork in Louis XV style. A tiny replica of the ship Pamiat Azova, made in gold and set on a piece of aquamarine, was inside.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Fabergé collection was dispersed and many of the eggs were later sold in the West.