Diamond Trellis Egg & Surprise

Discover Fabergé’s Long-Lost Surprise at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

in Art & Culture by

In 1892, jeweler to the tsars Peter Carl Fabergé created the third in a series of objects that would go on to define his legacy. The Diamond Trellis Egg, commissioned as an Easter gift from Tsar Alexander III to Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, is a diamond-encrusted triumph of luminous green stone. Inside the egg, Fabergé enclosed his first-ever “surprise”—in this case a jeweled elephant automaton that walked around the egg with the turn of a key. The House of Fabergé would go on to create many more Imperial Easter Eggs, often including special surprises hidden within.

Over the years, the Diamond Trellis Egg ascended to its place of prominence in the Fabergé pantheon, but it was separated from its “surprise” and the mechanical elephant was presumed lost. In fact, it was merely misplaced. The Senior Curator of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Collection discovered the precious bauble in a cabinet at Buckingham Palace, and a crucial piece of Fabergé history was reclaimed.

Fabergé Tiara
Image courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Now, the Houston Museum of Natural Science has reunited the egg and its surprise in a stunning special exhibition dedicated to the artistry and innovation of Fabergé. The exhibition, Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise, marks the first time the pieces have been together since 1922.

The rest of the show is comprised of the sprawling McFerrin collection, which currently boasts more than 600 Fabergé objects, including picture frames, clocks, fine jewelry, and over 70 exquisite Fabergé eggs. Couple that prodigious collection with the recent opening of a Fabergé boutique in the Galleria, and Houston is suddenly the best place outside of Imperial Russia to enjoy the jeweler’s luxurious work.

Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise is on display in the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery, within the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, through April 18. Tickets are available at www.hmns.org.

Featured image courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Noah is a Houston-based writer and photographer. You can find him exploring Houston's restaurant and museum scenes with his wife or catching a game at Minute Maid Park. He and his wife serve local businesses through their digital content company, Two Cats Communications.

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