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Russia, Old and New - Siberian jade objects

Russia has vast resources of brilliant green and immaculate white Nephrite jade and its artist have been busy transforming it into beautiful objects of art.

The best known sources of such objects of art in Russian nephrite jade are the workshops of Carl Fabergé in St.Petersburg, Cartier in Paris and Dennisow-Uralski, the supplier of raw and finished hardstone objects from Siberia.

Peter Carl Fabergé (May 30, 1846–September 24, 1920) was a Russian jeweler, best known for the famous Fabergé eggs, made in the style of genuine Easter eggs, but using precious metals and gemstones rather than more mundane materials.

He was born in St. Petersburg to the jeweler Gustav Fabergé and his Danish wife Charlotte Jungstedt. Gustav Fabergé’s father’s family were Huguenots, originally from La Bouteille, Picardie, who fled from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, initially to Germany near Berlin, then in 1800 to the Baltic province of Livonia, then part of Russia.

Young Fabergé began his education at St. Anne's Gymnasium, the German school in St. Petersburg. In 1860, the family moved again, to Dresden, and shortly thereafter, the teenage Carl went on a study trip, learning the jeweler’s craft at the House of Friedman in Frankfurt. In 1864, he returned to St. Petersburg and joined his father’s business, taking over its management in 1872.

Carl and his younger brother Agaton were a sensation at the Pan-Russian Exhibition held in Moscow in 1882. Three years later, Tsar Alexander III appointed him an official Court Supplier, as a reward for making him a splendid Easter egg to give to his wife. Thereafter, Fabergé made an egg each year for the Tsar to give to the Tsaritsa Maria. The next tsar, Nicholas II, ordered two eggs each year, one for his mother and one for his own wife, Alexandra, a practice which continued from 1885 to 1917.

He became the Tsar’s Court Goldsmith in 1885. The Imperial Easter eggs were a sideline; Fabergé made many more objects ranging from silver tableware to fine jewelry. Fabergé’s company became the largest jewelry manufacturer in Russia, with 500 employees and branches in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and London. It produced some 150,000 objects between 1882 and 1917. He left Russia during the Revolution in 1917 and died 1920 in Cannes, France.

A very good review of Fabergé and Cartier objetcs of art in jade is available in the 2003-2004 exposition catalogue : Fabergé-Cartier - rivals at the court of the Tsar , published by Hirmer in Munich/Germany.

One of the most famous objects in jade from the Faberge workshops is the Easter egg which the Russian gold mine tycoon Alexander Ferdinadowitsch Kelch had offered to his wife Barbara on Easter 1901. It was made under the supervision of one of Faberge’s jade specialists, Michael Perchin.


Fabergé Nephrite Easter Egg – Two hollow egg halves in Siberian green jade about 14cm long with four feet in red gold in the shape of apple tree branches. The petals of the white apple flowers are in enamel with their center formed by diamonds on a pink background. (Collection A.P.Goop, Lichtenstein)


Fabergé Eternal Calendar – A cube in green nephrite about 10cm high showing the month, day of the month and day of the week with golden knobs and diamond decoration. Late work of the Fabergé workshops and now in the New Orleans Museum of Arts.


Fabergé Quadratic Nephrite Box – Very simple box 9.7cm square with cover decorated with a diamond studded monogram “EK” and with an inscription 23 juillet, 5 août 1902. The box was made for Count Kinsky, Ambassador of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in St. Petersburg (New Orleans Museum of Arts).


Fabergé Jade Kosch – An oval, boat shaped, 25cm long ceremonial drinking cup with golden handle with diamonds and a “NII” monogram. This was a gift of the tsar Nicolas II to Ambassador Boutiron, the French ambassador to Russia in 1906(Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris).


Fabergé Jade Cigarette Case – A 8.3cm long box with white enamel decoration, chiseled laurel leaves and 8 ruby cabochons. Made by Henrik Wigström, the other jade specialist of Fabergé (Collection John Traina, San Francisco).


Fabergé Jade Box – A 8.4cm long box with gold frames and two closures with two sapphire cabochons. The box was purchased on December 1911 by Countess Hatzfeld, born Claire Huntington, at the Fabergé’s subsidiary in London (A la Vieille Russie New York) .


Fabergé Tsar Puska Cannon – A copy of the famous 5.3m long cannon of the tsar in green nephrite with gold decoration. This was a gift of Tsar Nicolas II to his nephew, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany (Collection Stichting Huis Doorn).


Fabergé Desk Set in Louis XVI Style – An eleven piece set of office desk objects in green jade with gold and gilded gold decoration comprising stand clock, ink vessel, stamp container, bell, ink blotter, pen holder, pen, pencil, table clock, glue pot and two candle holders. Objects made in the Wigström workshop (Collection Thyssen-Bornemisza).

After a long pause, such beautiful jade objects are once more made in Russia. If you look carefully during televised interviews, you can see such jade objects, not unlikely the Fabergé desk set, also on the desk of the actual tsar in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.

A small company, located in Obninks, a high technology town about 150Km south-west of Moskva has revived the making of similar objects, minus their diamond and gold decoration, in a vivid green Siberian (Sayan) nephrite. Next to green jade also selected articles are made in black and white Eastern Siberian jade. Views of the object made and contact details can be found under www.nephrite.ru and the English version of the homepage.











Black Siberian jade set


White Vitim jade set

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Reader Comments (2)

Theese really are some beautiful pieces antique!
January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJade
I would like assistance in identifying a jade, diamond, and gold (or platinum) cigarette case. There are not Faberge markings. The only markings are what apprears to be the number 2663 stamped on the top rim and clasp.
I suspect that it is a Cartie but am not sure.
July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteven Ray

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