Normally when you think of Easter eggs, your mind drifts to deliciously sweet chocolate. But did you know that the world's most famous Easter eggs are in fact, not made of chocolate at all? They are instead made of valuable and beautiful jewels, gemstones and precious metals. These eggs are called Fabergé Easter eggs and nine of them are displayed at the Fabergé Museum located in the Shuvalov Palace in St Petersburg. A total of 69 eggs were crafted for the Imperial Family of Russia, of which 61 are accounted for today. The real mystery lies behind the lost eggs, which have been scattered around the world throughout history. Read on to find out all about these precious but sadly, inedible eggs.
The First Easter Egg
The very first Fabergé egg was crafted by Peter Carl Fabergé in 1885 who would, for several years to follow, be regarded as the most talented jeweler in Russia. The Easter egg was created upon request by Tsar Alexander III to give to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna as a celebration of Easter, the most important occasion of the year in the Russian Orthodox Church. She adored the bejeweled egg so much that the Tsar commissioned an egg to be made every year thereafter and even appointed Peter Carl Fabergé the goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown. Fabergé was given freedom over the choice of design for the future imperial eggs, each year revealing more intricate and elaborate creations. Upon his death, his son, Nicholas II continued the tradition and presented an egg annually to both his wife, Alexandra Fedorovna and his mother.
A Royal Egg Hunt Worth Millions
Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Nicholas II, then Tsar, abdicated his throne. The Fabergé collection was subsequently nationalized and the precious Easter eggs where transported to the Kremlin Armory, while the Fabergé family fled to Switzerland to escape further prosecution. Over the years, the Fabergé Easter eggs withstood revolution, two world wars, civil war, and even being sold by Joseph Stalin in 1927 in an attempt to acquire foreign currency. But sadly, through so much, many of them were lost. Some were even rediscovered, one being found at a flea market in the United States which eventually had a value of around $30 million! Now that's one lucky shopper. Several wealthy families around the world spent millions of dollars in an attempt to purchase the remaining eggs that weren't already safe in a museum.
You may not be so lucky to find another Fabergé Easter egg in a flea market somewhere around the world, but you can definitely study each of the nine eggs at Fabergé Museum. Each individual egg is specially displayed in its own clear case and tours are limited to only 15 people. The first in the series of 50 jeweled eggs, called ‘The Hen Egg’, is one of the masterpieces and the original 1885 egg commissioned by Tsar Alexander III. This opaque white egg opens to reveal its first surprise, a matte yellow gold yolk. The yolk also opens and to reveal a multi-colored gold hen, which in turn also opens. Originally this contained a diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a ruby pendant egg was suspended but unfortunately, these last two additions have been lost over time. Eggs aside, the Schuvalov Palace is well worth a visit on its own merit. The silk-lined walls, shiny parquet floors, gold gilding and moldings will make you feel like a real Tsar or Tsarina as you walk through the halls.
Head over to the museum and you can set yourself off on an Easter egg hunt you thought you would never go on! If you stay at the Radisson Royal Hotel, St Petersburg, the Fabergé Museum is only a 10-minute walk away. You will also be close to the city's most famous cultural and historical attractions by Nevsky Prospect.