Alma Pil was born in 1888 into a family of Russified Swedes – hereditary jewelers. After studying at the institution of Baron Stieglitz, she began working at the Faberge firm. This was the only time when a girl became a jeweler for Faberge. Alma’s jewelry was both quirky and traditional.
Her activities in jewelry were interrupted by the events of 1917. Alma emigrated to Finland with her husband and worked as an art teacher. But some of her products, including the Winter Egg, went down in history. It was created in 2013 by order of Nicholas II as a gift to his mother.
The egg is set on the surface in the form of melting ice, made of rock crystal and adorned with diamonds and platinum. The jewel itself, divided into two transparent halves, is also made of rock crystal. The egg is crowned with a moon cabochon. The halves of the egg are engraved and have a platinum bezel with diamonds.
The surprise of the egg is an elaborate platinum basket containing realistic quartz snowdrops.
The winter egg went down in history not only for its beauty, but also for the amount that was paid by the emperor for this souvenir. The Faberge firm received 24,600 rubles.
Now the egg is in the collection of the Emir in Qatar. He acquired the jewel in 2002 at an auction in New York.
Precious Winter Egg by Alma Pil
Inside there are delicate flowers of white quartz snowdrops, leaves of jade. Nicholas II paid 24,600 rubles for the Easter gift. The Romanovs liked the Easter egg so much that they ordered Alma an Easter egg the next year.
The further fate of this masterpiece is also interesting. After the October events of 1917, the values of the royal family were confiscated. Some of them were sold to the West, including the Winter Egg. It got into the collection of the Englishman Emmanuel Snowman (literal translation of the surname – Bigfoot or Snow Man), he paid 500 pounds for it. After World War II, Brian Ledbrook became the owner, after whose death traces of the masterpiece were lost. However, in 1994, the egg was put up for auction at Christie’s. When it was brought in, all the people in the hall stood up. The winter egg sold for $ 5.5 million. The second time it appeared at an auction in 2002. Its owner was the Emir of Qatar, who bought the jewelry masterpiece for $ 9.6 million.
Alma Peel remained the only woman who worked in the Faberge firm. The events of 1917 interrupted the artist’s brilliant career. From Russia, Anna’s family managed to move to Finland in the summer of 1921. Here Anna began teaching drawing and calligraphy at a Swedish school at the Kymi pulp and paper mill, where her husband worked. Both Alma and Nikolay missed St. Petersburg very much. Alma worked at the school for 24 years. None of her entourage ever found out about her past life, although during her short career she managed to design about two thousand jewelry. They remembered Alma Pil’s masterpieces only after her death, when albums with wonderful sketches were found. Alma passed away on July 11, 1976 at the age of 87.