A Russian silver-gilt mounted purpurine miniature pendant Easter egg, circa 1900. The egg formed of polished purpurine, the silver gilt mount with partially effaced maker’s mark, possibly Cyrillic KF. The underside with a small area of orange discoloration. Height with suspension ring: 5/8 in. (1.9 cm).
Purpurine, a vivid opaque matte red glass, has long been among the most desirable of materials; the intense color often leads viewers to believe that it is a hardstone rather than glass. In Russia, purpurine was first made at the Imperial Glass Factory by Leopoldo Bonafede (1833-1878). Beginning around 1890, Fabergé’s workmasters began using a purpurine of an entirely different formula and it has been suggested that the formula might have been provided to him by Sergei Petukhov, a chemist at the Imperial Glass Factory (see H.C. Bainbridge, Peter Carl Fabergé: His Life and Work, London, 1949, 54), although later investigations have not borne out this supposition. On Fabergé’s purpurine, see R.R. Harding, et al, “The Composition of an Opaque Red Glass used by Fabergé,” The Journal of Gemmology 1989, vol. 21, no. 5: 275-287.
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