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Faberge egg exhibit an Easter highlight in Houston

Sunday - 3/31/2013, 12:40am  ET

HOUSTON (AP) -- Eggs are a symbol of renewal, which is why they are part of Easter celebrations, but a collection of jewel-encrusted eggs on display in Houston is a symbol of extreme wealth.

A Houston couple has loaned its private collection of dozens of authentic Faberge (fa-bur-ZHAY') items to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It includes an egg that a Russian czar presented to his wife in the late 1800s.

The head of the museum in Houston says there are only about 52 Faberge Imperial Easter eggs ever made and he's delighted to have one on display.

Faberge Easter eggs are known for their beauty and intricate workmanship, made of precious metals and stubbed with gemstones that create flowers, birds and other figurines.

The quest to purchase the rare Faberge eggs pitted wealthy American and Russian collectors against each other. About 11 of the treasures are on display in the Kremlin.

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Joel Bartsch, gem expert and president, Houston Museum of Natural Science

Joel Bartsch, the president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, says Faberge eggs were originally Easter gifts -- a symbol of spring in the Russian Orthodox tradition. ((Faberge is pronounced fa-bur-ZHAY'))

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Joel Bartsch, gem expert and president, Houston Museum of Natural Science

Joel Bartsch, a gem expert who heads the Houston Museum of Natural Science, says their exhibition includes many elaborate gem-studded items made in Faberge workshops. ((Faberge is pronounced fa-bur-ZHAY'))

<> 00:12 "a jewel-encrusted mousepad"

Joel Bartsch, gem expert and president, Houston Museum of Natural Science

Joel Bartsch, a gem expert who heads the Houston Museum of Natural Science, says Peter Carl Faberge is remembered for his elaborate bejeweled eggs, but he came up with gem-studded versions of many items. ((Faberge is pronounced fa-bur-ZHAY'))

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Czar's Faberge Easter Egg, 1905 Love Trophy Egg commissioned by Nicholas II of Russia, photo


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