The most famous works of the Faberge firm are, of course, imperial Easter eggs, stone-cut figurines, jewelry flower arrangements. However, this is far from a complete list. It is hard to imagine what kind of jewelry made of gold or silver, precious or ornamental stones could not be found in Faberge stores. The most responsible orders were carried out by the central St. Petersburg branch, silverware was mainly produced by the Moscow branch of the company. Experimenting with various materials, the Fabergé masters created real masterpieces of jewelry art using materials unusual for jewelry: wood, glass, and even papier-mâché.
One such material is purpurine, a rare form of opaque glass that is bright red in color. Purpurine can have different shades, depending on impurities, but the most beautiful, which I would call lingonberry, the French call sang-de-boeuf (bull’s blood). Purpurin is often confused by name with purpurite, but these are completely different things, purpurite is a mineral.
Physical properties of purpurin: intense color, density, matte surface; make it look like a mineral. Purpurine was invented more than once, at different times and in different countries. Masters kept their inventions secret, the composition of purpurine and its properties were different. In Russia, purpurine was first produced at the Imperial Glassworks by craftsman Leopoldo Bonafede (1833-1878), a chemist, mosaicist and student of Michelangelo Barberi, who was hired in 1851, along with his elder brother Giustiniano (1825-1866), to create a new range of glass colors and smalt at the Imperial glass factory. He developed a formula for purpurin, which brought great success to the Russian manufactory at the international exhibition in Paris in 1867.
Chemical analysis of the Faberge purpurine dating back to 1880 shows that it is soda glass, which differs significantly from the lead-potassium purpurine produced at the Imperial Glassworks in the 1860s. It has been suggested that Fabergé’s purpurine was created by Sergei Petukhov, a chemist at the Imperial Manufactory, who retired from the Imperial Glassworks in 1878.