It is an unusual piece of art that is an enameled gold egg containing a completely accurate model of the Gatchina Palace near St. Petersburg. Only five inches high, it even includes a tiny flag flying from the palace tower. It is decorated with pearls and diamonds. Historians think this egg was given to the mother of Czar Nicholas Il on Easter morning, 1902.
It was customary for the Russian royal family to exchange eggs like this one every Easter. An egg is an ancient symbol of rebirth or renewed life, expressed in Christianity as the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. The Gatchina egg, as it is called, was created in the jewelry firm of Carl Faberge in St. Petersburg. Founded in 1842, this company employed the finest jewelers and goldsmiths in all of Europe.
These artisans also designed magnificent boxes, clocks, tableware, and jewelry. It was the series of eggs, however, that secured Faberge’s reputation. Most of the eggs were signed by Michael Perchin, who was one of the few native Russians employed by Faberge. The famed House of Faberge was closed in 1918 by officials of the new government. In order to raise money, the government sold all but ten of the eggs. Today, many of these priceless eggs are housed in private collections and museums.