Back in Business
Carl Peter Faberge
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Watch the video for the whole story about the rebirth of Faberge.
The very name of Fabergé carries echoes of 19th century St. Petersburg – ice skating parties on the Neva, exquisite dresses, and frozen winters.
And – of course – eggs. In 1885, Tsar Alexander III commissioned Carl Peter Fabergé to make a jeweled egg as an Easter present for his wife. That was the start of a tradition in the family, and Fabergé eggs have become priceless masterpieces, one of which recently sold for $14.5 million.
Following the demise of the Russian Imperial Family, the House of Fabergé was nationalized.
For years, the name was used for cosmetics – but nothing more. Today Fabergé the jeweler is back.
The new House of Fabergé has the cooperation of two of Carl Peter’s great-granddaughters, and investment from a South African private equity firm. And it has just released the first high-end jewelry collection under the name of Fabergé for nearly 100 years.
The aim is to reinterpret Fabergé’s work, not reproduce it. Creative Director Katharina Flohr visited St. Petersburg with Tatiana Fabergé, and has used documents from the era for her inspiration.
“We are re-launching with a collection based around three themes dedicated to the Russian soul with the French sensitivity of Fabergé’s artwork. The themes are centered around flowers, which are based on Fabergé’s flower studies,” explains Katharina Flohr. “The second theme is the fables, legends, folk and fairy tales that were very popular in Russia. And the third theme is ‘Les Fauves’, which is based on the union of music, art, ballet and theatre.”
Each item is a one-off, with around 100 pieces in the launch collection. They are aimed at what Fabergé calls “the discerning spending classes.”
Customers will not find these pieces in any old jewelry shop. Fabergé is only opening a single branch in Geneva. The main outlet for the pieces, which cost from a paltry $45,000 to an $8 million price tag, is the Internet.
As a business model, particularly during a recession, it has its advantages – there is no need for pricey shop rental or case-loads of stock. A customer visits the website and is able to talk to a sales adviser one-on-one via instant messaging. Afterwards, that same sales person will arrange to visit the customer anywhere in the world to show them the piece in person.
“They appreciate it and they also see it as a way of breaking down one of the last barriers of resistance to expensive things online,” says Fabergé CEO Mark Dunhill.
This innovative sales method is reminiscent of Fabergé himself. He sent out one of the world’s first mail order catalogues to his customers in the 1890s. And while there are no eggs in the collection at the moment, the Fabergé team is not ruling out the idea.