Turn the pages of Fabergé’s history, and chances are you’ll find quite a few mentions of India. Like Maharaja Sir Pratap Singh Bahadur of Jammu and Kashmir who commissioned the iconic jewellery house to create a crystal stamp holder in 1903. Or in 1937, Queen Mary gave the Maharaja of Bikaner a presentation box made by Fabergé. Royal patrons like these and more define the brand’s journey.
During its heyday, the House of Fabergé in St Petersburg produced some exemplary objets d’art for the Russian Tsars. The most famous of which were, of course, the 69 Imperial eggs commissioned by Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers. Virtually all were manufactured under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé between 1885 and 1917, and it is the centenary of this visionary founder that the House of Fabergé recently celebrated.
While the exquisite bejewelled eggs have become synonymous with him, the inimitable jeweller to the royals and his team did not set out to create imperial splendour. Their aim was to inspire a new era of jewellery-making at a time when jewellery was quite without creativity.
“The fashion at the time was for big statement pieces, predominantly made of diamonds or pearls. Peter Carl Fabergé brought in a new era of ‘art in jewellery.’ He would use unusual materials (which were not always expensive) and fuse these with exceptional creativity which would be visible in the many details of Fabergé pieces,” says Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell, the brand’s sales director.
The beauty and value of Fabergé pieces are far beyond the value of the materials but much more in their ingenuity, wit and an element of surprise. Today, the brand takes inspiration from the rich, illustrious past and applies it in a modern, contemporary way. “In keeping with the Fabergé tradition, we also continue to explore vibrant colour palettes by using coloured gemstones and enamel,” she adds.
Driving forth its vision of ‘A Life in Colour’, the most popular gemstone in the brand’s oeuvre is the emerald, closely followed by the ruby. Their present relationship with Gemfields—a world-leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones—enables them to showcase the most beautiful Zambian emeralds and Mozambican rubies.
Luxury, elegance and superlative craftsmanship remain the quintessential characteristics of Fabergé jewellery. “Like earlier, craftsmen are selected and trained based on their particular merits. This applies especially to the unique jewel and pearl-encrusted eggs made to order, as in the days of the Tsars. Fabergé is tacitly accepted today as ‘owning’ the egg-shape and has no competitors in this field,” says Geza von Habsburg, Curatorial Director and Fabergé Heritage Council.
Not many know that Peter Carl Fabergé was working with clockwork in objects. Some of the famous eggs were also clocks, each with imaginative new ways to tell the time. The jeweller worked with movements by Vacheron Constantin, Switzerland’s oldest manufacturer of fine watches, and the legendary independent watchmaker H. Moser & Cie. “It seemed logical for us to continue this tradition but with our own contemporary twist where we develop award-winning new mechanical complications and movements that allow us to play with colours, proportions, layering of materials, ingenuity and surprise. No one else does it quite like us,” says Aurélie Picaud, Timepieces Director. In fact, the Indian market has been particularly interested in two of the brand’s award-winning watches—Compliquée Peacock and Visionnaire DTZ.
Today, Fabergé offers an inclusive service—a client can be guided through to create a customised bespoke piece of jewellery. This personal approach is very important in India, believes the brand, as the country boasts a long relationship with family jewellers. So even as the world counters an unexpected upheaval, the jewellery house stands firm in its belief—a thing of beauty is a joy forever.