Design: The Affable Elegance of Faberg

Works by Russia's master jeweler light up two Manhattan shows

There is little room in today's reckoning for the gorgeous playthings that the royals and the royally rich acquired insatiably in the three or four decades before World War I. The most sumptuous, superbly crafted of these frivolities were made by Peter Carl Fabergé, jeweler to the Romanovs, whose establishment in St. Petersburg poured out cascades of baubles and bibelots for nearly 50 years before the Bolsheviks banged on the door in 1918.

That era, in all its extravagance and charm, makes an eye-and...

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