When Nicholas II was crowned Emperor of Russia in 1894, he was the wealthiest man on the planet. Worth 240 billion pounds in today’s money, he was richer than any modern day billionaire.

Unsurprisingly, the Russian royal family spent lavishly, and were served by several official court jewellers.

But names like Hahn, Ovchinnikor and Bolin have been largely forgotten. Only one – the House of Fabergé – has achieved longevity, becoming a byword for absolute luxury...

What are Fabergé eggs?

Like other Russian jewellers, Fabergé retailed small egg-shaped pendants to be worn on a chain at Easter time, an opulent interpretation of the Orthodox tradition of gifting painted eggs at Easter, which dates from around the fifteenth century.

Fabergé also made specially commissioned, much larger decorative eggs for the Russian royal family, known as the Imperial eggs. It’s these eggs for which Fabergé has become best known.

How many Fabergé Imperial eggs are there?

Fifty eggs were completed by Fabergé between 1885 and 1917– ten for Alexander III, who gave them to his wife, and a further 40 for Nicholas II, who gifted one to his mother and another to his wife each Easter.

A further two eggs were commissioned but never completed, due to the upheavals of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

Are any of the Imperial Fabergé eggs lost?

Between 1885 and 1917, fifty Imperial eggs were completed by Fabergé, and a further two ordered but due to the upheavals of the revolution never completed.

The whereabouts of seven is now unknown. Wartski sold one of these – the so-called Nécessaire Egg – in 1952 to an anonymous buyer recorded as “A. Stranger”, but its current ownership is unknown.

How much do Fabergé eggs cost?

As almost all the eggs are in museum collections it’s unlikely they will ever be sold, making them priceless.

The last egg to be sold was the Third Imperial Egg of 1887, which a dealer in the US bought without initially realising that his find was by Fabergé. This was then sold privately in 2014. It is believed to have fetched tens of millions of pounds.

Why are Fabergé eggs so valuable?

The value of the eggs isn’t in their intrinsic gem and precious metal content. They’re completely unique works of art which have achieved cult status, in part due to the supreme skill and ingenuity with which they’re made, but also their association with the doomed Russian royal family.

Where to see Fabergé eggs

Where to buy Fabergé eggs