Peter Carl Faberge and his workshop made incredibly intricate Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court between 1885 and 1917.
These rare and unique creations had the cover of enameled gold and gem stones, which would open to reveal hidden wonders - sometimes golden yolk, sometimes a delicately sculpted figure, all nestled in many levels like a traditional Russian matryoshka doll. As only fitting for Easter Eggs, each one contained a surprise! (could it be that software's easter egg surprises have their origin at the Russian court?)
Here is a list of every known Faberge egg in existence (only 61 have survived), each design uniquely different (see some of them also here). The advent of Bolshevik's Revolution has put a stop to the Russian Empire's production of jeweled eggs... among other things.
Some eggs had an exquisite clock built-in, some were accompanied by even more delicate gold & gemstones figures, like royal carriage models or bouquet of jewelled flowers. Most had a mechanism of some kind, so it's even more fascinating to see them in action - a true wonder of miniaturization.
"There were eggs to commemorate the coronation of Czar Nicholas II, the completion of the Trans Siberian Railway, and anniversaries. There were eggs depicting the Imperial yacht-Standart, the Uspensky Cathedral, the Gatchina Palace, and during the time of war, the Red Cross and the military."
To get a feel for the prices commanded by prime Faberge examples, this particular egg is known to have been auctioned at $18 million dollars. It is an unrecorded egg, which makes it even more astonishing. (more info) -
(image credit: Robert Catalano)
Note the level of miniaturization in this example: Gatchina Palace Egg, 1901:
(image credit: Mary Harrsch)
The Regis Galerie inside the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas boasts a few Faberge Eggs on display:
(image credit: tsaiware)
Also see this fine flickr set for additional egg pictures.
Some jewelry that accompanied the eggs was also worth mentioning:
Even today the style and workmanship of Russian Imperial Court jewelers continue to inspire artists and architects: see for example The Grand Lisboa structure in Macau, China -
(image credit: James A)
Sources: The Faberge Experience, Russian Gifts