Fabergé firm

The history

The Founder of the Fabergé firm - Peter Carl Faberge was born in Russia in Saint Petersburg on May 30, 1846. Russian German by origin, the owner of Fabergé firm, that was one of the leading jewellery companies in Russia in the 19th century since 1872. His father — Gustav Fabergé, who founded the jewellery firm in St. Petersburg in 1842, originated from the German family with French background, was born in Estonia, and his mother — Charlotte Jungstedt, was the daughter of the Danish artist.

In his youth, Carl Fabergé travelled in Europe. He studied in Dresden primarily, later he studied jewellery business under Joseph Friedman, the Frankfurt jeweller. After that, he returned to Russia. He headed his father's firm in 1870, when he was 24 years old. At first, a small workshop produced jewellery. Business expanded in 1872, more attention was paid to the artistic aspect, specialists developed new technologies of processing metals, invented their own methods of processing gems. The production ramped up and the assortment of the manufectured items was growing rapidly. Separate workshops for gold and silver jewellery production were established. Many skilful masters willingly worked using the models and sketches created in Fabergé workshops. Successful cooperation with workshops and jewellery producing factories such as Holmstrem and Tilman, Perkhin, Reimer, Collin, Rappoport, Alexander ARNE, Stefan Väkevä etc developed.

After the stunning success at the all-Russian artistic-industrial exhibition in 1882 in Moscow, Peter Carl Fabergé received the title of the Supplier of His Imperial Majesty Court. The era of recognition and popularity started for him.

Fabergé firm produced unique presentation gifts, as well as the items created on the Imperial Court order. The first Easter egg - Alexander III gift to his wife was created in 1883. Overall, about 50 Easter eggs were manufectured by Fabergé workshop for the Imperial family. The production of Easter eggs-surprises started there - the eggs with clockwork mechanisms, miniature figures and portrait medallions. The highest technique, richness of decoration, the artists’ skill and imagination was the key to global recognition.

Fabergé firm mainly specialized in manufacturing jewellery up to 1887. Later on, the range of items grew. Silverware, dinner and tea sets and various decorative items were produced. Simultaneously the firm affiliated branch was established in Moscow (factory and shop). Little later, shops in Odessa and London were opened. In 1899-1900's architect Carl Schmidt, the jeweller’s cousin constructed the main building of the Faberge firm in St. Petersburg center. The lower floors were designed for the store and workshops. The family occupied the rest of the building. The items created by Fabergé firm were exhibited at various expositions and always had great success. Thus, Carl Fabergé was titled the Master of Paris Guild of Goldsmiths and was awarded with the Legion of Honour order during the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. All this contributed to the growth of the firm popularity outside Russia - in Europe and America.

Tough time for the firm and its owner began immediately after the October Revolution. All workshops were closed; the Bolsheviks nationalized the equipment, stocks of materials and ready-made items. By the end of 1918 Carl Fabergé managed to go abroad – primarily to Riga and then to Germany. Otherwise, his arrest was inevitable. The family life in Europe was not easy - people were recovering from the turmoil of the First World War. The Fabergé family lived quite modestly.

Carl Fabergé, who was already over 70, was unable to recover from the hardships and losses of those years. Separated from his motherland, having no chance to continue his favourite business, his health and mental condition steadily deteriorated. According to the memories of his close friends at that time, he used to say, "There is no more life". In spring of 1920, he had a heart attack. The family moved from Germany to the area of Geneva Lake the summer of the same year, hoping that local climate would support his failing health. In a few weeks, on September 24, 1920, having smoked half of the cigar before his death, the world famous master and jeweller, Carl Fabergé died. He was buried in the Grand Jas Cemetery (Cimetière du Grand Jas) in Cannes.

Exhibits in the Museum Collection