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Fine Jewels: The History of Fabergé with Sarah Faberge

Arushi Sakhuja

You've probably come across Fabergé eggs in museums or a movie, but what's the hype around it?

Fabergé is the world’s most iconic jeweller of timepieces, objets d’art and jewellery and is most synonymous with its Royal Fabergé Eggs. The brand today is known for its exquisite gem creations, glistening quality of precious stones and high-quality jewellery. Fabergé was founded in 1842, by Peter Carl Fabergé and soon the brand became the official goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court; the house created exquisite jewels and objects, including the legendary series of lavish and ingenious Imperial Easter Eggs.

A Fabergé egg is perhaps one of the most valuable collectables in the world. Legend goes, Tsar Alexander III of Russia commissioned Peter Carl Fabergé to create a special Easter egg for his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna. And this special egg was made from precious metals and gemstones, thus starting the tradition of the Fabergé eggs. Fifty such eggs were commissioned by the Russian Empire, which later came to be called ‘Imperial Fabergé Eggs' and only 43 of them have survived.

Peter Carl Fabergé was renowned for his exquisite and artistic use of colour, making the most of each gemstone’s unique characteristics and developing a vibrant enamel palette. Today, Fabergé uses the world’s finest coloured gemstones and explores the art of colour through creations which are designed to become future heirlooms.

Making its foray to India in 2017, today the brand works with Gemfields to create its luxury products. Currently head by Sarah Fabergé, Founding Member of our Heritage Council and great-granddaughter of Peter Carl Fabergé, Sarah said, “Today’s Fabergé looks to the ingenuity of my great-grandfather, Peter Carl Fabergé and his constant pursuit of excellence.” Starting on a new venture, Sarah Fabergé will serve as Godmother to Seven Seas Grandeur, a new ship by Regent Seven Seas Cruises®.

Sarah will don exquisite pieces, made of 18k white gold and featuring blue guilloché enamel, white diamonds and pearls, which will also be auctioned to raise money for charity in 2024. The proceeds from this auction will be donated to the Gemfields Foundation. Additionally, a one-of-a-kind, meticulously hand-crafted objet d'art known as Journey in Jewels – an exquisite Fabergé egg – is in the making and will be a permanent resident on the open seas, serving as the crowning jewel within the ship's awe-inspiring multi-million-dollar art collection.

Celebrating the concept of the artist-jeweller in today’s world of luxury, The Style List spoke to Sarah Faberge about the art of creating fine jewellery and the history of the brand.

Tell us a little about your journey and how did the idea of Fabergé come about?

Prior to the relaunch of Fabergé in 2009, and when the Fabergé trademark was acquired by the new owners, I was invited to join the business to advise and guide the company on its mission to re-establish itself as a contemporary jeweller and creator of objet d’art for the 21st century. Together with Fabergé’s Curatorial Director Archduke Dr Géza von Habsburg, the world-renowned Fabergé expert, and Faberge’s Archivist John Andrew, connoisseur and author, we form the Fabergé Heritage Council.

What has been the most exciting piece today’s Fabergé has created and why?

We have come a long way since 2009 and it is hard to single out just one piece, but for me, our Compliquée Peacock watch collection demonstrates how we carry forward the spirit and ethos of my great-grandfather Peter Carl Fabergé’s company, by paying homage to the past with a very contemporary design. Inspired by the Peacock Egg of 1908, this GPHG award-winning watch features a unique movement developed exclusively for Fabergé by Agenhor. Hours are read at the winding crown at three o’clock, as a numbered ring rotates counter-clockwise. The minutes are read by the position of the peacock’s tail feathers as they unfurl each hour, only returning to zero when the lead feather reaches 60. It comes in a variety of styles to suit different tastes but always with the same attention to detail.

Some of the new collaborations we can look forward to?

One of Fabergé’s traditions is the element of surprise. We tend to keep full details of new collaborations under wraps until we are ready to announce them.

Tell us about your new partnership with the luxury ocean cruise line Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

I am honoured to have been invited to be Godmother to Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ extraordinary new ship ‘Seven Seas Grandeur’ which, like Fabergé, has been inspired by the past and reimagined for the future. As part of our partnership with Regent, we have announced the commission of a one-of-a-kind, meticulously hand-crafted, objet d'art titled ‘Journey in Jewels’. This unique Fabergé egg will be the first resident of its kind on the open seas and will live on the Seven Seas Grandeur ship. I am looking forward to sharing Fabergé’s story when I host Regent guests onboard Seven Seas Grandeur’s Mediterranean voyage in July 2024.

Are there any plans to unveil jewellery collections, too, in India?

With India’s own culture deeply connected to jewellery and celebrating gemstones and unique and astonishing jewel creations, we have always felt very drawn to the country and have many wonderful Indian clients who understand and appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of Fabergé pieces to this day. We, in turn, adore and value India’s rich tradition of celebrating colour and extraordinary creativity. And in many ways that reconnects Fabergé with India again today. ‘A Life in Colour’ is our brand motto and therefore colour and coloured gemstones are the central components of Fabergé, both then (pre-1917) and now. You won’t find many pieces in Fabergé’s collections which don’t feature colour or coloured gemstones. We have been engaging with clients in India for many years and have built very meaningful relationships with these clients both in and outside of India.

What excited you most about being involved in the relaunch of one of the world’s most iconic jewellers of timepieces, objets d’art and jewellery?

The reunification of the Fabergé family with the trademark (something we didn’t ever imagine would be possible); the funding to be able to move forward in a meaningful way and the opportunity to be involved. I have been very fortunate in working alongside an amazing team of talented, enthusiastic and dedicated people. It is very important to note that what we have achieved so far we have done together. Of course, there are obstacles to overcome, as with any business, but I am very blessed to be doing something which I am passionate about.

Has the modern-day Fabergé brand upheld the traditional ethos, workmanship and artistry of the past? How has it adapted its values and designs to appeal to the modern-day consumer?

We work with creatives and Workmasters who uphold these values. Together, we collaborate to translate inspirations from the past into something new and exciting. Along with other jewellery of course we make eggs, both pendants and objets d’art. They are part of our DNA and legacy and form a significant part of our core collection. Some are heavily influenced by our heritage, in that they feature guilloché enamel (very much a feature of Peter Carl’s company) and they often contain surprises within. Others are more minimalistic and, in complete contrast, we recently launched some neon egg pendants. Egg jewels come in many styles and we like to offer our clients a wide choice, however, it is important to note that we offer more than (just) eggs. Our Colours of Love collection for example is now one of our most iconic and best-selling, and champions rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces which feature beautiful coloured gemstones. As in the past, we also enjoy working on bespoke creations for those wanting something specific and unique. These requests can range from small egg pendants to specific jewels and rings, to large egg objects. Every commission is different, and no two requests are ever the same. We love working on projects which really challenge our designers, Workmasters and craftspeople and, in the spirit of Peter Carl, the only limitations are one’s imagination.

What are some of the key evolutions in jewellery?

“Regarding jewellery tastes, we’re certainly seeing a continued shift away from diamonds in favour of the fabulous, coloured gemstones that we have available, whether that be the ‘big three’ as I refer to them (rubies, emeralds and sapphires) or some of the wonderful, lesser-known gemstones such as spinel, garnets and tourmalines, to name a few.”

One of your favourite pieces across all collections.

This is always hard to answer as we continue to develop new creations so to choose just one is difficult. Right now, I adore our Fabergé Emotion 18k Yellow Gold Charmeuse Emerald Ring. Intense, bold and bohemian, pushing the boundaries of design and craftsmanship, it speaks volumes about today’s Fabergé.

1 Comment

sucheta kher
sucheta kher
Aug 17, 2023

Great read!

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