The Empire Strikes Back

Fabergé jewelry and objets

For small-scale perfection, nothing can touch Carl Fabergé's marvelous eggs that the Russian Imperial Famil exchanged each Easter. But Fabergé, who ran workshops in Moscow and St. Petersburg from the 1870s until the Russian Revolution, brought a keen imagination to his other creations as well, designing some of the finest jewelry and objets of the 19th century—everything from cigarette cases and bonbon boxes to frames, clocks, desk sets, and jade carved into apples.

The two one-of-a-kind pieces pictured above (prices upon request) are coveted today not only for their remarkable craftsmanship but for their distinctly Russian spirit. Imagine the dresser, for example, that this red lacquer box with silver mounted scrolls and stylized birds once adorned. Or the lady who dangled Fabergé's gold Art Nouveau vanity case discreetly from her waistline, where she could release her lipstick and powder puff by pressing a cabochon sapphire. They vividly conjure a lost world of Tolstoyan elegance.

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