Peter Carl Faberge is best known for his exquisite Faberge eggs and other jewel-encrusted works of art that were functional, decorative, and all the rage in royal Russia. However, Faberge was not only jeweler to Russia’s aristocracy, he was also a keen international businessman who demanded perfection out of his employees and set high standards for customer service.
Faberge himself did not actually create any of the fabulous pieces he is famous for today. Rather, he employed workmasters – highly-skilled jewelers, goldsmiths, enamellers, and artisans who could stone into life-like animal figurines, set jewels into the stamens of “flowers,” cast silver into whimsical images, and otherwise turn metals and minerals into prized and highly collectible works of art that were given as gifts to members of society’s upper echelon.
Hundreds of craftsmen who were employed at Faberge’s workshops and were held to exacting standards that served to reinforce Faberge’s reputation as no ordinary jeweler. Surviving Faberge items attest to workmasters’ skill and design aesthetics: a vase carved from a single piece of topaz is a minimalist creation that belies its own striking uniqueness; a bison shaped from obsidian with its nose polished to simulate a moist sheen is evidence of knowledge in materials and how to manipulate them to achieve a desired effect.
Faberge supplemented his income from expensive baubles by producing sets of silver for the Imperial Court and other aristocratic tables in the West. This early form of branding ensured that the most desirable customers were confronted with Faberge’s name and work whenever they sat down to dine.
Faberge’s Customer Service
Faberge was in superlative demand all over Europe, and his ability to work with individual customers further strengthened his popularity. Creating pieces that bore family colors, crests, or other personalized symbols were incorporated into items purchased for the buyer himself or as gifts. In some cases, Faberge’s customers helped to design pieces made for them.
Faberge had several branches in Russia and one in London. Customers could browse jeweled wares or place special orders. Choosing the gift was part of the Faberge experience – with each item a uniquely handcrafted item and always following the current fashion trends, Faberge retail shops were a smorgasbord of glittering novelties for Europe’s rich and famous. In addition, Faberge always discontinued items that were outdated in order to ensure that high society always had the freshest designs to choose from.
Faberge’s Worldwide Notoriety
Faberge had customers from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the United States, India, the Middle East, and beyond. Those who could pay could always find what they needed through one of Faberge’s branches or through the jeweler himself. Faberge items were highly collectible even in his day. While history readily connects him with the Russian royal family as their personal jeweler, in reality, Faberge was internationally renowned figure.
The business that Faberge ran was not only about creating beautiful objects out of luxurious materials. It was about creating a highly desired product that carried with it guarantees of quality and fashionableness. Faberge objects delighted, amazed, and above all, flew off the shelves. These items, always in good taste, always of superior make, and always with the customer in mind is what still makes these objects so collectible today.