Once the jewel-encrusted playthings of the Russian royal family, the first Faberge Imperial egg produced in almost a century is set to be unveiled in Qatar on Tuesday, its makers said.

Ninety nine years since Faberge made its last Imperial egg, for Tsar Nicholas II, the famous jewel maker will show off its newest creation at an exhibition of watches and jewellery in Doha. The "Faberge Pearl Egg" features 139 fine white pearls, and more than 3,300 diamonds as well as other precious gemstones, according to the jeweller. Several Gulf nations have a long history of pearl diving, and Qatar is building an artificial island off its coast named after the precious treasure. The egg is the first of its kind commissioned since World War I.

Faberge's last Imperial creation -- the Steel Military Egg -- was commissioned in 1916 by the Tsar just months before he was removed from power by the Russian Revolution and forced to abdicate in February 1917. Nicholas II had arranged the egg as a present for his wife, Alexandra. The tradition of giving decorative eggs was started by his father, Tsar Alexander III, who surprised his wife Empress Maria with a bejewelled Easter egg in 1885.

But as much as they were loved by the Russian royalty, the diamond-encrusted objets d'art have come to symbolise the family's excesses. The new egg has been crafted "to mark the upcoming (100th) anniversary since the last Imperial egg was commissioned," Faberge's spokeswoman Alize Morand told AFP. She said the egg would be the first of several that will soon be unveiled by Faberge. After going on show for the first time, the egg will be sold at the end of the five-day exhibition in Qatar and there are already buyers interested in the piece. One estimate put the value of the new egg at $2 million (1.7 million euros).

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