The tradition began with Czar Alexander III when he commissioned one for his wife, Empress Marie Fedorovna in 1885. At that time, Easter was the Russian Orthodox equivalent of Christmas in the Western world, and it was traditional to receive hand-painted eggs from friends and family. Of course, the Imperial Family went a step further. Instead of hand-painted eggs, they gave magnificent, bejeweled works of art. The commission of these eggs was expensive, and Fabergé was given free reign over the design with the stipulation that each egg contain a surprise within. The extravancy of these eggs was such that each one took over a year to create. The most expensive of these eggs, The 1913 Winter Egg would have cost just over three million dollars in today's currency. Its most recent sale was for over $9 million.
The body of the egg is set with over 1300 rose-cut diamonds as well as over 300 brilliant diamonds. The basket has 1,378 rose-cut diamonds.
In the end, Fabergé created fifty eggs for the Imperial Family, although only 42 have survived to the present day.