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March 30, 2010

Tracking the Egg Man

This summer St. Petersburg was abuzz with ru­­­­mors that Andrei Ananov, the city's most cel­e­brated jeweler, had retired after 20 years of creating his famous fine bau­bles. Noth­ing of the sort was true. He had simply given up his shop on Nevsky Prospekt and moved to a three-story building he designed himself, on the Petrograd side of town, where the entire production process now takes place.

Ananov re­­mains the firm's chief designer, turning out pieces that are widely admired as well as criticized as "Fabergé rip-offs." His detractors do have a point—he's best known for designing Easter eggs in the style of his famed predecessors. But at prices of up to $1 million, they do fancy themselves fine art craftsmanship. He also makes accessories for men and women, such as colorful bracelets with painstakingly painted enamel that are not in­­frequently laden with diamonds.

While perhaps unoriginal, Ananov is indisputably a master of his craft. And in a country where the consumer's allegiance is first and fore­most to major inter­na­tional brands, the House of Ananov is appealingly, sparklingly quaint. At 7 Michurinskaya Ulitsa; 7-812/ 235-4251; ananov.com.