Make like a Tsar and buy your loved ones a Faberge egg this Easter – if you can find one that is. Sophie McIntyre investigates the mysteries of Fabergé.
Looking for the ultimate Easter egg? Wartski’s of Mayfair might have just the thing – a stunning Fabergé pendant egg which can be yours for around £15k.
The first thing to consider is that this is really quite affordable for a Fabergé - as the Russian goldsmith’s ovular creations sell for anywhere between £15,000 and £50 million.
Although not as famous as Fabergé’s extravagant Imperial Easter eggs, the pendants are important pieces of Russian imperial history in their own right. They were gifted to Russian ladies by the generous men in their lives around Easter time, and were worn en masse in a great pile around the neck. Gentlemen – count yourselves lucky that you are only expected to bring home a chocolate bunny or two.
The egg on sale at Wartski’s is a fine example of such a pendant: it features intricate Fabergé gold-work paired with fantastic red enamel. ‘The enamel on this egg is real alchemy,’ notesWartski’s Fabergé specialist, Kieran McCarthy. ‘It’s beautifully engraved and covered with a silk-like enamel. It’s something you find in a lot of Fabergé’s work’.
And starting from £15,000, a good quality pendant is probably one of the cheapest pre-1918 Fabergé eggs you can buy – anything created by the Fabergé company after this date is ‘worthless’. We hope you haven’t invested heavily in a clutch of eggs from the 1920s.
The crème de la crème of the Fabergé egg collection are, of course, the Imperial Easter eggs. Fifty large, lavish eggs crafted for Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II to give to their wives. Each contained an individual surprise – often as precious as the egg itself.
Of the 50 eggs created, only the whereabouts of 43 is known. Of them, 13 have been bought or sold by Wartski – and that’s quite the commission.
Nine eggs are currently under the ownership of Russian billionaire and Fabergé egg collector, Alexander Ivanov, who has opened a museum in Baden Baden, Germany, to house his collection.
If the pendant eggs sell for £15,000 and up, what are the Imperial ones worth? Good examples are likely to fetch over £30 million, according to Wartski’s egghead. One such was valued at £20 million in 2014, according to The Telegraph suggesting that prices have surged dramatically in the last three years.
But this price rise is, of course, only meaningful if you can get your hands on one in the first place. ‘When people get them, they very rarely sell them,’ cautions McCarthy. ‘When you see them, they are so exquisite and they are this relic of Imperial Russia and this craftsmanship and this society. They are such sought after items. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, you just can’t buy them.’
The last Imperial egg was sold by Wartski back in 2014, McCarthy points out, declining to reveal the price.
Intriguingly, there is one egg that the imperial expert is particularly keen to find – the Necessaire, an egg that doubles as a vanity case fit for a Tsarina, complete with tweezers, nail file and scent bottle. It was sold by Wartski on 19 June 1952 for £1,250 and hasn’t been seen since. The exceptional provenance of the piece was unknown back then and it was priced to sell accordingly, but it has since been revealed to be one of the rare imperial eggs.
‘Someone’s got this egg and they don’t know,’ exclaims McCarthy. ‘It is potentially worth $40-$50 million.’
So where are you going this Easter weekend? Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the ultimate Easter egg. Perhaps the piece has been forgotten in some attic corner or is gathering dust on a mantelpiece – who knows? The world’s greatest Easter egg hunt is underway…
Sophie McIntyre is editorial manager at Spear's