It was a find that confused, then delighted Russian historians and students of decorative arts. A wavy strip of white gold, five centimetres long, artfully encrusted with garnets and rubies, with a delicate border of white diamonds flecked with diverse quartzes. For years, it was admired, but never understood. Now Professor Alexey Arkhipovsky, expert on the treasures of the tzars can say, almost without doubt, that this is the perfect and obvious companion piece to the Faberge egg.
"We know that Romanov Tzars habitually handed over the gift of the Faberge egg to their Tzarina over breakfast. This is a charming joke," Professor Arkhipovsky told the Russian media. The delightful and fabulously valuable piece was found in a forgotten archive in St Petersberg, among the effects of a long dead communist general. Now experts say they are not ruling out more linked discoveries, and are examining a huge burgundy ruby studded with tiny diamond "seeds" and severable irregular tubes made of cleverly enamelled gold. Professor Arkhipovsky said: "It looks like we are on our way to uncovering what you might call the full Russian."