Fabergé had to close down his workshops because his craftsman were all at the front. He was unable to continue to make these objects of art. He had no more precious materials. Gold and silver were no longer allowed to be handled by jewelers at that time so it was steel and brass and copper that they were using. And the imperial family could also not be seen ordering expensive things from Fabergé at a time when Russia was bleeding to death.
The steel egg, with gold patterns surmounted by a gold crown, rests on four artillery shells. It is divided into three sections by two smooth horizontal lines. In the middle section, in inlaid gold, is an image of George the Conqueror in a diamond-shaped frame outlined in laurel leaves, the Russian emblem, consisting of a double-headed eagle beneath three crowns; and the monogram of Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna, also encircled by a laurel wreath. Resting on the points of four miniature artillery shells, the Steel Military egg (1916) makes up in sober significance what it lacks in ornamentation.
The story goes that in 1916, when Nicholas II was far from home at the front, he sent a telegram to Fabergé asking him to deliver that years Egg to the Tsarina at Tsarskoye Selo. On Easter eve Eugène Fabergé acted for the very last time in father's name. He was received by the Tsarina and her five children and gave to her what must have been one of the most simple objects ever made by Fabergé for the Imperial Family; an egg, made of black steel with the initials of the Tsarina in gold.
Believing as many did that now the Czar would overcome the difficulties, Fabergé designed this eggs to applaud the event. For the Czarina, Vassily Zuiev painted on ivory an image of Nicholas consulting with his officers at the front, as a surprise. On an easel there is a gold and white enamel frame displaying the emblem of the Order of St George surmounted by a golden crown. The frame encloses a miniature painting on ivory by Vassily Zuiev depicting Czar Nicholas II and his son at the Front.
Alexandra sent a telegram to Nicholas II at the front, which reads in part:
"Fabergé has just brought your delightful egg for which I thank you a thousand times. The miniature group is marvelous and all the portraits are excellent".
(1) Nephrite = a less precious type of jade.