Easter gift for empress to fetch up to pounds 3m

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The Independent Online
CHRISTIE'S is expecting a price between pounds 2m and pounds 3m when it offers a Faberge Easter egg, known as the 'Winter Egg', for sale on 16 November - a record price for the jewelled creations of Carl Faberge's Russian workshop.

The egg was made as a gift from Tsar Nicholas II to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, at Easter 1913 - the tricentenary of the Romanov family's rule. The interior of an egg-shaped crystal was carved to imitate frost patterns then 'icicles' of rose diamonds set in rivulets of platinum were applied to the exterior and its stand, an imitation block of ice. More than 3,000 diamonds were used in all.

Like all the Easter eggs Faberge created, it opens to contain a surprise - a basket of flowers carved from white quartz with gold wire stems, nephrite leaves and green garnet centres.

The London dealer Emanuel Wartski bought it from the Soviet government in the 1920s. It was last seen at auction in 1949 when it made pounds 1,160 at Sotheby's in London. The 'Pine Cone Egg', which made pounds 1,872,340 at a Christie's sale in 1989, holds the auction price record. Christie's expects to break it when the 'Winter Egg' is auctioned in Geneva.

(Photograph omitted)

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