A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Fabergé Pendant Eggs
Fabergé’s miniature pendant eggs are an exceedingly enjoyable area to collect. In what other area can you purchase a Fabergé egg that you can also wear everyday?
Perhaps no country is better known for its Easter eggs than Russia. From the jeweled creations of Fabergé to humble woodcarvings, the holiday could not be celebrated without the decoration and exchange of numerous eggs. With the tradition dating back to the 15th century, by the 1890s wealthy families presented each other with precious miniature eggs each year. Eggs could be decorated with symbols of the season, family professions, or love tokens. Strung on gold necklaces, a lady might have multiple necklaces by her later years.
Jeweled pendant eggs can range from affordable to quite expensive, so where should a novice collector begin? Read on for 5 key tips to beginning your Fabergé pendant egg collection.
1. It’s important to begin with an established and trustworthy seller who is willing to guarantee authenticity.
2. Consider the materials you prefer: the translucent guilloché enamels for which Fabergé is famed or a more unusual material like the matte purpurine, a rare and unusual glass that is so opaque it resembles a carved hardstone. Do you want an egg with an elephant or clover, symbols of good luck, or perhaps your birthstone? Eggs are available in every style and color, and designs can be surprisingly modern.
3. Examine the egg or photos of the egg carefully. It should show some signs of wear. When strung together on a necklace, the eggs often bumped into one another and tiny chips or bumps can appear on enamel surfaces. Large areas of loss and repair negatively impact price while an important provenance will increase it. The Red Cross egg (featured below) has a small area of discoloration that is fairly common with enameled eggs, and the estimate reflects the tiny bit of wear as well as the desirability of the subject matter.
4. Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with Russian hallmarks. Pendant eggs are mostly constructed on a frame of gold and are marked on the bale, the small suspension ring from which they can be attached to a necklace or bracelet. The bale is a small space for the relatively large maker’s marks and hallmarks, especially if we compare them to the diminutive marks used in France! Russian jewelers stamped items with the numbers 56 (equivalent to 14K) or 72 (equivalent to 18K).
5. If your budget doesn’t extend to a Fabergé pendant Easter egg, consider buying a Russian pendant Easter egg. Prices are significantly cheaper and the pendants can be just as lovely, if a bit less complex.
This week’s Fine & Decorative Arts Auction features beautiful Fabergé style pendant eggs. Take a look here!
Written by Karen Kettering, Vice President at John Atzbach Antiques in Redmond, Washington.