It is the season to admire art in an unlikely medium: eggs. People around the world have been decorating Easter eggs for generations.
At the end of the 1800s, a New Jersey druggist created a commercial Easter egg dye. Still in business today, PAAS offers more than 20 products. (The company takes its name from the Pennsylvania Dutch word passen, meaning Easter.) PAAS reports they sell more than 10 million egg color kits a year – enough to dye 180 million eggs.
One particular family elevated eggs-as-art at the highest level of artisanship, creating some of the most collectible and influential designs in history. In Russia, the House of Faberge began creating exquisitely jeweled eggs as Easter gifts. The eggs were given to Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II to bestow as tokens of love. The original imperial eggs were produced between 1885 and 1917.
Designs featured highly detailed enameling and silver, gold, copper and nickel. Many are studded with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires.
At least fifty eggs were created and 43 are accounted for today. Several are displayed in museums around the world, but Faberge eggs are also the jewels of private collections. Reportedly, a Russian oligarch paid more than $100 million for nine of the original eggs. American magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes gathered nine Faberge eggs by his death in 1990.
In 2015, a man bought what he believed was junk metal only to discover his find was a Faberge golden egg valued at $33 million. The same year, the House of Faberge unveiled its Faberge Pearl Egg, the first Imperial egg produced in more than 100 years. Twenty artisans created it from pearls, gold, diamonds, and crystals. It was valued at $2 million.
Designers from Balmain to Victoria Beckham to Zang Toi have cited Faberge eggs as inspiration for decadently luxurious clothing in rich fabrics, vivid jewel tones, and gold accents. The designs have also inspired (affordable) jewelry and fractal art.
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