A Carved Rock Crystal and Enamelled Gold Case Carl Fabergé, c.1890

St Petersburg, c.1890


formed from two panels of pure, transparent rock crystal carved with a diagonal grid, each aperture centred with a stylised flower with four petals, the gold rim decorated with a green and white enamel twist over a stippled ground, the thumb piece denoted by an old European cut diamond.

Chief Workmaster: Michael Perchin.
St Petersburg, pre-1896
Inventory Number: 47380

Length: 8.8cm
Width: 5.5cm

The technical proficiency which this case would have demanded from Fabergé’s craftsmen would have been considerable. Lapidaries would first have had to extract unblemished pieces of rock crystal from larger, rough stones and fashion them into thin slices. The delicate surfaces would then have been engraved with the geometric design, a process which required absolute precision. Finally, the panels would have been set into enamelled gold mounts without heating the metal for fear of shattering the rock crystal or damaging the enamel.

In his memoirs Franz Birbaum, who was the manager of Fabergé’s workshop, recalls that rock crystal was used “in very varied work with carving and engraving. Its setting were richly decorated with enamel and precious stones. Its friability demanded of the craftsman a particular skill, and its setting was entrusted only to the most experienced workmaster.”