Cadbury's chocolate eggs are, indisputably, the U.K.’s greatest contribution to the Easter holiday. But London’s got a different set of eggs to offer this year. The city’s given itself over to Fabergé, the Easter egg of choice for tzarinas, celebutantes, (allegedly) strung-out supermodels, and other modern-day princesses, which has commissioned customized eggs by more than 200 artists and hidden them all about town. It’s all part of the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt initiative to raise £1,000,000 for two charities, The Elephant Family and Action for Children, by capitalizing on the Queen’s 60th anniversary celebrations (what the Brits call her "Diamond Jubilee"), our addiction to text messages, and irrepressible attraction to anything sparkly.
A wide array of talents were tapped to craft the 2-foot-6-inch-tall fiberglass eggs, including artists Marc Quinn, Mr. Brainwash and the Chapman Brothers; Wallpaper* magazine; and starchitect Zaha Hadid. Like all ensemble casts, each artist brought his or her own unique contribution: Dame Maggie Smith, a cherished staple in period pieces and the Harry Potter franchise, played to her strengths and got all Downtown Abbey with her dapper “Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham,” a portrait of proper Victorian restraint. Oliver Clegg’s “On/Oeuf” took a transparent egg shell and transformed it into a clever light bulb; and the East India Company turned its egg on its axis to create a vintage, sepia-toned globe titled "Remarkable Connections," a nod to its heritage as globe-trotting imperialist spice hunters. Among our favorites is food art masters Bompas & Parr's gumball machine, titled "No. 2062" and presumably crafted to resemble their medium of choice, Jell-O (or as the Brits would say, “jelly”).
The rules are simple: the eggs, dispersed throughout the city, each carry a code. When texted to the contest hotline, each number provides an entry to win the crowning jewel of the competition: a Diamond Jubilee Egg of rose gold, set with 60 diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires (one for each year of Her Majesty's reign), valued at £100,000. The charges that apply to each text go straight to saving Asian elephants and at-risk youth.
The hunt is already on — although, if you're lazy, you can just bid for them online. Meanwhile the adventurous have just 37 more days until the contest ends on April 7 (to the pious, Easter Sunday).
To see some of the creations for Fabergé's "Big Egg Hunt," click on the slide show.