In 1885, the Czar of Russia, Alexander III wanted to mark the twentieth anniversary of his marriage to Czarina Maria Fedorovna, as well as Easter, with a very special gift. He commissioned a young jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé, to create a special egg for his Czarina.
To her delight, Fabergé’s first egg was a simple enameled one. However, once opened, a golden yolk is revealed. Inside the yolk is a golden hen and within the hen is a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg. Thus began a tradition that would last until 1917, when Czar, Nicholas II and his family were arrested. The only member of the Czar’s immediate family to escape execution, Dowager Empress Maria, took the Order of St. George egg, the last Fabergé egg she received from her son Nicholas II, when she left Russia.
Fabergé made a total of 66 eggs, with the majority for the Russian Imperial family. While private collectors and museums now hold most of the eggs, eggs that were once thought to be lost periodically turn up. In March 2014, a scrap dealer rescued one from a junkyard.
Learn more about Fabergé
• Treasurers of the World (1999): The Fabergé Eggs. Note this 56-minute PBS special also includes a piece on the Hope Diamond.
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