Monday, 11 July 2011

The Rebirth of the House of Fabergé

For the first time in almost 100 years, the House of Fabergé has produced a new collection of the custom-made bejewelled eggs, similar to those which were once the cornerstone of the Fabergé brand. Not since the fall of Russia’s Imperial Family during the 1917 Russian Revolution has an egg been created by the master jewellers. This year, however, will see the introduction of 12 new pendant-eggs, which the company hopes to sell for up to £350,000 ($600,000) each.  This is the latest step in the painstaking restoration of a brand which has been in decline for nearly a century.

Peter Carl Fabergé
The House of Fabergé, founded in 1842 by Peter Carl Fabergé, suffered greatly as a result of its association with the ill-fated Romanov family. (The penultimate Tsar, Alexander III, commissioned an egg from the famed jewellery workshop every year as an Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Maria - a tradition continued by his son, Tsar Nicholas II after his father’s death). After the brutal execution of the Romanovs at the hands of the Bolsheviks, it soon became clear that there was no place in post-revolutionary Communist Russia for Fabergé or its brand of decadent luxury.  When his company was subsequently nationalised by Lenin and Co, Peter Carl Fabergé fled to exile in Switzerland where he died, heartbroken, in 1920.

The deterioration of the brand, which began with nationalisation by the Bolsheviks, was further aided by a succession of unsuccessful buyouts by companies such as Elizabeth Arden and Unilever during the 1970s and 1980s, which saw the company expand into the cosmetics industry (including an ill-advised foray into the Brut fragrance market).

The renaissance of Fabergé, has been a long time coming, but the company, now owned by a South African mining mogul, was determined to bide its time until the last lingering whiff of cheap Brut had evaporated. After a long wait, it is now felt that the time is right for the much-anticipated re-launch.

The Diaghilev Egg
One of the more ornate eggs in the new collection is the Diaghilev Egg (named after the impresario who brought us the spectacle that was the Ballet Russes). Crafted from white gold, and inset with 2,012 diamonds and rubies, the exqusite Diaghilev Egg is proof that the House of Fabergé, has finally come full-circle – with the ideologies of Russian communism now fading into the annals of history, the company is once again embracing the luxurious decadence which had for so long tarnished the brand.

So, will this new collection of custom-made pendant eggs restore the company to the glories enjoyed during its heyday in Imperial Russia? Well, if the intense media interest is any indicator, the answer is overwhelmingly yes.

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