Fabergé Glorious gemstones
The jewellery creations of Fabergé’s Dalliance collection are built around the emeralds, rubies and sapphires supplied by Gemfields.
For most people, the Fabergé name is synonymous with the enamelled and bejewelled Easter eggs commissioned by Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II from the goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé between 1885 and 1916. After decades of history as a jeweller of great renown, followed by a period of relative obscurity and then rebirth, Fabergé is now owned by Gemfields. This mining company specialises in ethically sourced coloured stones, including emeralds from Zambia, rubies from Mozambique and amethysts. Obviously, Fabergé makes the most of this connection in its jewellery business. But that’s not all. “In 2014, when Fabergé started making watches again, we thought it would be a shame not to exploit the potential offered by Gemfields,” explains Aurélie Picaud, head of watchmaking for Fabergé. “We had always intended to create a jewellery collection, and we decided that the Dalliance line would express Fabergé’s creativity by showcasing the precious stones of Gemfields,” she continues. This is the kind of “vertical integration” that many watchmakers can only dream of.
Dalliance, a movement made for jewellery
The movement of the Dalliance collection lends itself particularly well to jewellery creations. Developed exclusively for Fabergé by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and his company Agenhor, the hand-wound AGH 6911 calibre shows the hours and minutes on two hands, only the tips of which are visible. They peek out from under the edge of a dome that occupies the centre of the dial, providing a perfect canvas for a sumptuous display.
Dalliance Lady Libertine I © Fabergé
Given that the stone for the month of May is emerald, this is the perfect opportunity to take another look at one of the finest examples of the synergy between Fabergé and Gemfields: the Lady Libertine I watch. It all began when Fabergé and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht visited the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, which belongs to Gemfields. Inspired by the beauty of the landscape and the splendour of the emeralds, an original idea was born: why not use the raw gemstone in a new watch? The centre of the Lady Libertine I by Fabergé is made of a hand-carved raw emerald, representing the rivers of the mining region, with their outlines picked out in gold. Faceted emeralds and diamonds of different sizes map out a verdant African jungle that cover the entire dial. On the cover image for this article, the Lady Libertine I is photographed with the rough Inkalamu emerald, the Lion Emerald, of 5,655 carats (1.13kg), found in the Kagem mine in October 2018.
Dalliance Lady Libertine II © Fabergé
Collaboration with independent master artisans is part and parcel of the Fabergé tradition, which Peter Carl Fabergé initiated back in the mid-19th century. Today, the Lady Libertine I bears witness to Fabergé’s ongoing commitment to this principle. “For this watch, we worked with Art & D based in Carouge, near Geneva, which specialises in making watch cases and dials featuring artistic crafts,” notes Aurélie Picaud. “For Dick Steenman, the artisan who worked on the dial, cutting and engraving the raw emerald represented a considerable technical challenge, because it’s a very fragile stone.”
Dalliance Lady Libertine III, inspired by coastal scenery from Mozambique © Fabergé
Gemfields’ contribution to Fabergé’s creativity can also be seen in the pieces that followed the Lady Libertine I. Model II uses faceted emeralds to represent a different landscape in Zambia, while the model III takes rubies and pink sapphires to bring to life the coast of Mozambique in a design created in partnership with Fiona Krüger, enriched with enamelling by Anita Porchet. The Dalliance GemAddict watch uses the central dome to showcase a one-carat diamond, set inside a halo of scarlet enamel, baguette-cut diamonds and a ruby bezel.
Dalliance GemAddict © Fabergé
Indeed, with watches like these, gem addiction is a distinct possibility. And Fabergé is fortunate to have insider access to one of the world’s most prestigious suppliers with which to feed it.