The History of Faberge Jewellery
Tuesday - 12 March 2019
For over a century, the House of Fabergé has symbolised wealth, opulence and beauty. Their famous Imperial Eggs in particular are instantly recognisable across the globe for their elaborate gemstone decorations and solid gold designs. Today, the luxury brand remains one of the most highly coveted jewellery manufacturers in the world with a range of breathtaking collections of necklaces, charms, earrings and bracelets. In honour of Fabergé and their stunning range of jewellery, we want to take you on a journey through the brand’s interesting history.
The original founder of Fabergé was Gustav Faberge, a trained goldsmith who opened up his own jewellery store in a basement shop. He decided to name the shop Fabergé, adding a diacritic to the name’s final e in an attempt to give the shop more of a French character. This was because French was the official language of Russia’s royal court and much of Russia’s upper class associated France with luxury goods. Later this same year, Gustav Faberge married Charlotte Jungstedt, an artist of Danish origin.
1846 – 1860
The couple gave birth to a beautiful baby boy whom they named Peter Carl Fabergé. Peter was educated in St Petersburg, Germany where he undertook a course at the Dresden Arts and Crafts School. In 1860, Gustav Faberge retired and left the Fabergé brand in the hands of managers outside of the Fabergé family while Peter finished his education.
Gustav Faberge and his wife gave birth to a second son, Agathon, in 1862. Meanwhile, Peter continued to study and was mentored by his father’s trusted workmaster Hiskias Pendin. Peter became involved with cataloguing, repairing and restoring masterpieces in the Hermitage museum. The French antiques that he restored during this time would later become a huge inspiration for some of the Fabergé eggs he would design.
1882 – 1884
Upon the death of Pendin in 1882, Peter Carl Fabergé took sole responsibility of running the Fabergé brand. Later on in the year, Peter had some of his work displayed at the Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow where Tzar Alexander III witnessed it for the first time. He demanded that the work he displayed be put into the Hermitage museum as examples of contemporary Russian craftsmanship.
Agathon followed Peter into the business and together they became widely recognised for creating elaborate Fabergé eggs for the Russians Tsars. Tsar Alexander III was the first to commission the House of Fabergé to create an Easter Egg as a gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna. Thanks to the breathtaking creation that was presented to the royals, the tradition of the Tsar giving his Empress an Easter Egg continued for many years. In total, the House of Fabergé created 50 Imperial eggs for Alexander III to present to his Empress and for Nicholas II to present to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and his wife the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Following this, the House of Fabergé was bestowed with the coveted title "Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown".
With business booming, the House of Fabergé premises at St Petersburg doubled in size and Peter Carl was given the title as Appraiser of the Imperial Cabinet. Sadly, at age 32, Agathon passed away of unknown causes. Nevertheless, Peter continued to take control of the business and the House of Fabergé was awarded the State Emblem at the Pan-Russian Exhibition and granted a Royal Warrant by the Court of Sweden and Norway.
Continuing to take over the world, Fabergé attended the Exposition Internationale Universelle (World Exhibition) in Paris. Here they were awarded a gold medal with Peter Carl Fabergé being recognised as maître. With no intentions of stopping, he was also decorated with a collection of prestige French awards and appointed Knight of the Legion of Honour. The exposition was a huge success and the House of Fabergé found themselves inundated with new clients and orders. The House of Fabergé continued to grow with the company now employing over 500 craftsman and designers. They had officially become known as the largest jewellery firm in Russia.
1914 - 1918
During the first World War, there was very little demand for luxury goods and so Fabergé took to producing copper articles such as cruets, plates, mugs, snuffboxes as well as military equipment like grenades. With all Russian capital being tied to foreign operations, their London stored closed and in 1926, the House of Fabergé became a joint-stock company. Then sadly, in 1918 the company was nationalised and by October all stock was confiscated.
1918 – 1924
With the business out of his hands, Peter Carl Fabergé fled from St Petersburg and into Germany. It is thought that he never recovered from the shock of the Russian Revolution and died in Switzerland on September 24, 1920. His family believed he died of a broken heart. His sons, Eugène and Alexander, both who had managed to escape from the USSR, settled in Paris and re-established the House of Fabergé. Together they restored pieces previously made by the House of Fabergé alongside other jewellery and artwork.
1937 – 1951
Without the Fabergé family’s permission, an American named Sam Rubin started a perfume business under the name Fabergé Inc. Unfortunately, to avoid high legal fees, the Fabergé family had to settle out at court and Rubin paid only $25,000 US dollars to use their name.
1964 – 1989
After years of success, Samuel Rubin was able to sell Fabergé Inc to the cosmetic company Rayette for a total of $26 million US dollars. Together the combined company became known as Rayette-Fabergé Inc until the company reverted back to Fabergé Inc in 1984. Once again, the Fabergé company was sold for $180 million US Dollars and then three years later, Fabergé Inc acquired Elizabeth Arden as part of the brand. Unilever then bought out Fabergé Inc for $1.55 billion US Dollars and began to produce a wide variety of products under the Fabergé name including cleaning products, washing machines and lavatories.
2007- Present Day
After several years of fighting, the Fabergé name was finally reunited with the Fabergé family. The Fabergé Heritage Council ensured the company would be relaunched in the same footsteps of the brand’s original heritage showcasing contemporary Russian design. At 9am on September 2009, Fabergé released its ‘Les Fabuleuses’ High Jewellery collection and by the end of 2012, all licences that were originally granted to third parties had been terminated and the name no longer showed on any cleaning products.
At C W Sellors, we could not be more thankful that the House of Fabergé was returned to the family name. Their stunning collections of jewellery that you see today beautifully capture the cultural heritage and technical perfection that has made the brand so synonymous for the past century and a half.
You can find a huge range of Fabergé jewellery and Fabergé watches on our website and in our stores. If you have any questions about the Fabergé jewellery brand or any of our Fabergé jewellery products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team on 01335 453453 or at email@example.com.