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Mastery of Design: The Fabergé Mosaic Egg, 1914

Thursday, May 5, 2011

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Imperial Easter Egg
Mosaic of gold, platinum, enamel, rose and brilliant diamonds,
rubies, emeralds, topaz, quartz, sapphires, garnets, moonstone
1914 Fabergé
Designed by Alma Theresia Pihl
Purchased for Queen Mary, 1933
The Royal Collection
Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II for Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, this remarkable, three-dimensional mosaic of gold, platinum, enamel, rose and brilliant diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, quartz, sapphires, garnets, moonstone was confiscated by the provisional Russian government in 1917. After being sold, it passed through several sets of hands before being purchased by King George V as a gift for his wife, Mary of Teck.


This imperial Easter egg features five oval medallions filled with a repeating design of miniature flowers. The intricate design was by Alma Theresia Pihl, the granddaughter of August Holmström, Fabergé's principal jeweler. By 1914, August Holmström had retired and his workshop was taken over by his nephew Albert Holmström who acted as the work-master responsible for the production of this egg.

The skill needed to produce this complicated design is almost unfathomable. Each gemstone had to be precisely cut to fit into its proper place in the platinum framework which supports the piece. The dimensions of each stone had to be carefully calculated in advance.

This egg, like the other Imperial Easter Eggs, bears a hidden “surprise” inside of it. When opened, an enamel medallion surmounted by the imperial crown is held in place by two gold clips. One side of the medallion features the profiles of the five imperial children while the reverse shows their names and the dates of their births. An added surprise is the initials of the Tsarina beneath the moonstone at the base of the egg.

Perhaps one of the most difficult of designs produced by The House of Fabergé, the egg was dedicated to Fabergé’s father, Gustav whose initials are included on the reverse of the medallion.


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