The Czars demanded them. The Aristocracy coveted them. Faberge made them. They are little bits of well appointed luxury—animals, flowers, frames.  And of course, the egg.

Geza von Habsburg is one of the world’s foremost Faberge experts—not to mention an Austrian prince—who guest curated “Faberge Revealed,” an enchanting summer show at the Peabody Essex Museum. The show features more than two hundred pieces crafted by the House of Faberge in Imperial Russia from the mid-1800s to 1916.

Von Habsburg said that the 1903 Byzantine egg, made “to commemorate 200 years rule of the Romanov family, [with] scenes portraying the founder of St. Petersburg in 1903, namely Peter the Great,” was at the “very top of the list” among existing imperial eggs.

He added, “I think it was the most expensive egg ever sold in the United States in its day.”

Of the climate in which the pieces were produced, von Habsburg said, “they were produced in a country where the nobility were the richest in the world. So they could afford to buy pretty much anything.”

Enter Peter Carl Faberge.  After traveling through Europe’s cultural centers as a young adult and having gained access to the Czar’s treasury back in Russia, he formed the artistic vocabulary to make himself jeweler to the Czars.

“He was fascinated by French eighteenth century art objects,” explained von Habsburg. “He studied the French enamel of the eighteenth century of goldsmith work and used these in his early works as prototypes. And so gold and enamel were one side and then Russian semiprecious stones. The great mines of semiprecious stones in Siberia were a source of fantastic stones which Faberge—he basically revived the art of stone carving in Russia.”

With the Imperial Family as a client, the rest of Russia’s nobility flocked to Faberge.  His artisan workshops ultimately created some 300,000 pieces—each one a novelty.  Faberge was especially renowned for its animals and flowers.

Von Habsburg said, “Faberge invented something that no one had done before. Namely charming jeweled flowers sitting in rock crystal pots simulating water and gold stem and enameled flowers with diamonds, a set. These were very popular, and the work collected in large numbers and cost almost as much as imperial eggs.”

The eggs are what brought and continue to create Faberge’s allure.  Originally created for Czar Alexander III, Faberge produced some 50 jeweled Easter eggs, with 42 surviving today.

“He began making little jeweled eggs,” said von Habsburg, “small ones, insignificant ones initially, but of great craftsmanship, worth about two thousand dollars. And then increasingly becoming more and more elaborate and more extraordinary, and this is really as far as I’m concerned the last flowering of the jeweler’s craft until the present time. Nothing similar has been done to the eggs of Faberge compared.”

Faberge’s reign ended when the Czar’s did.  And for the once prestigious house of luxury, the Faberge finish was nearly as grim.

“Faberge’s world basically collapsed because there was no money,” said von Habsburg. “People lived in terror. Faberge was on the hit list because he represented the essence of what czarist decadence was, and he fled and died in Switzerland a broken man. Basically saying, ‘My world is no more.’”

On the contrary, it astonishes still.