On May 30, 1846, Peter Karl Faberge was born, who is considered one of the most outstanding jewelers in the world. The beginning of the legend Indeed, in history, Carl Faberge remains an outstanding jeweler, but this is a good legend. In fact, the legendary hero himself did not make a single masterpiece. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start in order. The real jeweler was Gustav Faberge, who opened his first store in St. Petersburg in 1842. Here he was a recognized expert in the business, he had enough clients with interest. The only thing missing was a son, to whom he dreamed of inheriting his business. Dreams began to come true when the first-born Peter Karl was born to Faberge in 1846.
Dad did not leave the child a choice, and he began to study jewelry. The best European experts shared their skills with him. Several years passed in travels around Europe, where he studied new technologies, meeting with the masters, but most importantly, he was looking for craftsmen who later began to work for him. Young Faberge did not miss a single reception, not a single exhibition, got acquainted with young talents. The nuggets immediately received an invitation to St. Petersburg. At 24, the young man took over the helm of his father’s company.
The company began to grow, there were about a hundred specialists in the staff: stone cutters, artists, cutters. He left to himself the modest role of ideological inspirer and judge. If something went wrong, the owner did not like it, the product was immediately altered. For the sake of justice, we note that Carl Faberge himself did not consider himself a talented jeweler, but, on the contrary, was even convinced of his mediocrity. Nevertheless, he spent a lot of time in the workshops of the Hermitage, where he worked as a restorer for free, and also gained experience from masters of the old school.
Once Faberge was asked what it takes to learn jewelry. The answer included the word “belt”, about which he explained: “Without beating, you cannot learn skill. They didn’t beat me — that’s nothing. ” But the society has a completely different opinion. Everyone considered Faberge a very talented artist. In 1882, at the All-Russian Art and Industrial Exhibition in Moscow, his works were highly appreciated. And, what is very important, Emperor Alexander III was interested in his works, and a year later the first royal order followed, which radically changed the life of the head of the jewelry company.
Which came first: chicken or egg? The first to appear was the Faberge egg. On the eve of Easter, the emperor decided to present to his wife something unusual and memorable. He invited Faberge and ordered an Easter egg, of course, the jeweler did not refuse. The creations of the workshop of Carl Faberge shocked Alexander III so much that he was allowed to include the image of a two-headed eagle on his trademark and was given the title of “Jeweler of His Imperial Majesty”. And Faberge after that rightfully called himself “Supplier of the Supreme Court.”
A new tradition appeared in the royal family: each year one egg was made for Easter. Continuing the tradition of his father, Nicholas II asked to make two copies – for his family and for the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, his mother. There were no similar eggs, each reminded of some significant event for the empire. There were eggs in memory of the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway, in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, “Napoleonovskoe”. Every time there was a new surprise inside. Initially, the sketches were discussed with the tsar, but later all Faberge’s masterpieces were prepared independently.
Nicholas II liked to find surprises that were inside. Egg making was very time consuming, some products were made for a whole year, and some, especially difficult to manufacture, for several years. Masterpieces for the stream Cooperation with the imperial court helped Faberge a lot. Everything that came out of the jeweler’s workshops was highly appreciated, customers from abroad appeared. The company employed about 500 people. Among the jewelers were the Finns, the British, the Swiss, the Germans, and the Russians. Behind the scenes, the main jeweler of the company was considered Mikhail Perkhin – a nugget that Karl brought from Karelia. Carl Faberge made sure that all his works are not just jewelry, but real works of art. The head of the famous company was not afraid to experiment, his craftsmen worked with stones that were considered “non-jewelry”, and was not afraid of criticism.
Faberge’s people worked with a hundred shades. They possessed the technique of guilloche enamel, but no one, even knowing the technology, could repeat their masterpieces. The range of Faberge products was huge. Cigarette cases, silverware, sets, clocks, snuff boxes, caskets, souvenirs … All items were very expensive. But there were also mass-produced items. For example, in 1914 a series of copper cups was released. However, Easter eggs remain the most famous works of the jeweler. How many of them are left today, no one will say.
Only the imperial Easter eggs remained 54 pieces, and there were also private orders. The demand for Faberge Easter eggs continues unabated to this day. At the world’s largest auctions, their cost can range from $ 8 to $ 24 million. Decline of glory The end of the existence of the Faberge company was brought by the First World War. The craftsmen were mobilized into the army, there was no one to work. The last egg was presented to Nicholas II in 1916 and it was called, made in the form of a shell, “Steel”.
The revolution finally put an end to this story of success and glory. The new government confiscated the bulk of the products and jewelry, and then sold them for ridiculous prices. Faberge himself was able to preserve only a small part of his wealth, which he managed to take abroad. In 1918, fearing arrest, the head of the company first fled to Riga and then to Germany. All these shocks led to a sad end: in 1920, Faberge dies of heart disease at the age of 75.