The Diamond Trellis egg was presented to Tsarina Maria Feodorovna by her husband in 1892 and is made of a pale green jadeite enclosed in a lattice of rose-cut diamonds with gold mounts and a large diamond at the base. The egg was originally supported on a base of three silver putti representing the three sons of the imperial couple, Nicholas, George and Michael, however it has since been lost.
The surprise inside the egg was an automaton of an elephant in ivory which was believed to have been lost, however it has since turned up in the British Royal Collection. The elephant was wound up with a small key and had a gold tower on its back decorated with rose-cut diamonds. The sides of the elephant were decorated with gold and five precious stones, while the tusks, trunk and harness were decorated with small diamonds, and a black mahout on its head. The elephant had special significance as it resembled Denmark’s highest honour, the Order of the Elephant. The elephant was found in a cupboard at Buckingham Palace by the senior curator of the Royal Collection Trust and was later identified as being the lost surprise.
The egg was kept at Gatchina Palace until it was confiscated in 1917 during the revolution and taken to the Kremlin. The egg was one of eleven chose to be sold in 1927 and it was bought by Michel Norman of the Australian Pearl Company and then a T B Kitson from October 1929. The egg remained the property of Kitson until his death and Sotheby’s auctioned it in December 1962 to a private collector.
The Diamond Trellis egg is currently owned by Artie McFerrin, a successful businessman in the Houston chemical and petroleum industry, who has one of the largest private collections of Fabergé in the United States.