This egg is carved from Siberian nephrite (1), and celebrates Czar Nicholas II's five children. It is adorned with five miniature watercolour portraits of the children of emperor Nicholas II (the portrait shown on the picture is their daughter Anastasia) and contains a replica of Alexander Palace at Tzarskoye Selo. The upper and lower sections of the egg are set with triangular diamonds bearing the initial A.F. (Alexandra Fyodorovna) and golden leaves and flowers composed of rubies and diamonds.
The remainder of the egg's surface is divided by five vertical lines, studded with diamonds and connected with one another by gold garlands inlaid with rose and ruby flowers. In the spaces between the vertical lines are the five miniature oval portraits of emperor Nicholas II's children, framed in rose-cut diamonds, with a diamond monogram above each of them. Two gold branches tied into a bow rest beneath each child's portrait. Inside the egg, on the reverse side of each portrait, is engraved the birth date (based on the Old Style calendar) of the person represented, framed by two branches tied into a bow: "Olga" - November 3, 1895; "Tatiana" - May 29, 1897; "Maria" - June 14, 1899; "Anastasia" - June 5, 1901; "Alexei" - July 30, 1904.
The stand for the egg was made in 1989 at the Moscow experimental jewellery factory by S. Bugrov from a sketch by T.D. Zharkova. The original stand had been lost. The present stand was made in 1989 at the Moscow experimental jewelry factory.
When opened, the egg reveals a tiny detailed replica of Alexander Palace, the Imperial family's favourite residence at Tsarskoye Selo, and its adjoining gardens. Built in 1769 by the Italian architect, Giacomo Quarenghi in the late 18th century for Catherine the Great's favorite grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, who would become Tsar Alexander I, the palace later became the principal residence of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. It is executed in tinted gold and enamel, with windows of rock crystal; the roof is enamelled in light green. The model is secured on a round pedestal with five high narrow legs, connected at the bottom. The inscription "The Palace at Tsarskoye Selo", enclosed in a laurel wreath, is engraved on the base.
The Invoice reads: "Nephrite egg with gold incrustations, 54 rubies and 1805 rose-cut diamonds, design with 2 diamonds and 5 miniatures of the Imperial children, containing a representation of the Alexander Palace in gold. St. Petersburg, 2 May 1908. 12,300 roubles."
1908-1917 - Kept in the Mauve Room of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.
1917 - Confiscated by Kerensky's provisional government, along with other treasures, and taken from the Anichkov Palace to the Moscow Kremlin Armoury.
1922 - One of the items on the list of confiscated treasures transferred from the Anichkov Palace to the Sovnarkom: "1 nephrite egg with gold ornamentation, 2 diamonds and rose-cut diamonds, containing a model of the Tsarskoselskii [Alexander] Palace."
The Alexander Palace egg was never sold by Antikvariat to the West and remained in Russia.
(1) Nephrite = a less precious type of jade.