By John Helmer, Moscow
Brian Gilbertson, the leading South African mining entrepreneur, has launched a new stage of his investment in the Faberge jewellery marque with the first release for sale since 1917 of Faberge jewelled eggs, designed by the family of the original Russian court jeweller, Peter Carl Faberge. Four of the eggs, including a solid diamond encrusted piece, were displayed in London today. The full collection went on display in Paris yesterday.
Two years of design work and fabrication by craftsmen in France, Belgium and Switzerland have been financed and managed by Gilbertson’s team, including Sean Gilbertson, Sarah and Tatiana Faberge, and Katharina Flohr. The new eggs are the size of a baby’s fist and are to be worn around the neck as pendants. “We bought brand in 2007,” Gilbertson said in a speech at Somerset House, “to restore that historic name and to safeguard the Faberge heritage. We are committed to building Faberge into a leading world jewellery brand.” Two collections of egg pendants have been prepared for release at Faberge’s boutique in Geneva and for online sale through Faberge’s new client website. New Faberge shops are in planning for London, where Peter Carl Faberge’s original outlet on Bond Street closed after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Hong Kong and New York are also in planning.
“The Faberge egg is an iconic object in jewellery history,” Gilberston added. “It is the link between the Faberge past, its present revival, and the future.”
Timing and the search for craftsmen capable of fabricating the new eggs obliged Faberge to delay the egg launch for almost two years, said designer Flohr. “Tt was always our intention to make eggs again.”
Sean Gilbertson told Business Day that when the Faberge rights and marque were acquired in 2007, there were ten licensees for various Faberge-branded products around the world, including one for motor oil. These have had to be consolidated by Pallinghurst, the Gilbertson investment group based in London. “There was also the problem of Fauxberge,” Sean Gilbertson added — that is knockoffs and counterfeits. In a recent operation, French Customs seized a consigment of imported porcelain and other goods branded with the Faberge name. They had come from Russia. With assistance from Gilbertson, the counterfeiting was confirmed and the cargo destroyed.
Describing the new Faberge egg pendants “as the perfect solution for gift-giving to your beloved,” Brian Gilberston said the new pieces will be priced from $8,000 up to $600,000.