For many centuries Russian furs softly but glamorously enhanced greatness of the Russian Tzars and impressed foreigners. Notions “royal” and “sable” were inseparable. Foreign ambassadors and merchants, returning home after their visits to the Kremlin, told exciting stories of the Chamber of Facets, where the Russian Tzar sits on the throne decorated with a “fish tooth” (walrus tusk). But it was luxurious Tzar’s fur coat made of sable and decorated with gold and silver thread that impressed them the most.
The foreign guests’ astonishment at the Russian fur-bearing animal was quite understandable: sable lived only in Russia. Moscow received sable pelts as tribute paid by Siberian peoples. In the XI-XII centuries the extremely beautiful and expensive sable pelts served as money. They were used for paying salaries, fines and fees; they also served as awards for good service to the Fatherland. However, sable coats were rarity even among the nobility. Usually this really precious fur was used for decorating collars, sleeves and hems. Information of the cases when sable was given as gifts to other countries’ rulers, were entered into chronicles, which is why they came down to our time. For example, in 1635 Moscow sent some sables for the Persian Shah’s menagerie to get his friendship. The Persian ruler was enchanted with the gift because very few kings had such rarity. Another ruler received a gift from Ivan III, which were sables with claws decorated with gold and Novgorod pearls. The tradition was maintained later: the Russian ambassador in England gave Elizabeth I four pairs of sables for the decoration of the royal tippet. Many years later Nikita Khruschev followed his example: he gave a sable cape to Elizabeth II.
Currently sable still remains a luxury item and accentuates the status of its owner. To wear sable is the same as to drive a Rolls-Royce, that’s why it is obvious that the owners of this glamorous fur are successful and rich people. The most famous people of the planet wear sable: Madonna, Melanie Griffith, Jack Nicholson, David Copperfield, our famous couple: Alla Pugacheva and Philip Kirkorov. If there is a sable item on your shoulders or in your hands you automatically get into that selected group.
You decided to acquire a sable item? You should be careful choosing it because it will immediately become your visiting card. First of all pay attention to the origin of the fur. Sable is closely related to marten. Sometimes the labels of expensive and beautiful fur clothes say that the items were made of Canadian sable. It is, in fact, American marten. Its fur is beautiful too but its quality is incomparable to sable fur, which the famous biologist A. Brem called “a jewel”.
The wild sable pelts are divided according to the place of origin and quality: Barguzinsky, Kamchatsky, Yakutsky, Tobolsky, Eniseysky, Sakhalinsky, Altaisky, Tuvinsky, Minusinsky and Amursky. The Barguzinsky sable are elite ones living in the Baikal area and in the south of Yakutia. The large chocolate-brown, silky pelts with a touch of blue have been known as the crown or imperial Russian sable since the golden age of monarchies. Usually sable color varies from light yellowish-brown to dark brown, nearly black. Sometimes there is some whitish hair in the pelt, which looks like gray hair. Sable gray hair is very valuable: the more gray hair, the more expensive the item is.
Russia is justly proud of farm sable. We learned to breed this animal after a lot of effort. The farm sable pelts differ little from its wild brother: they are of noble dark color but bigger and of more uniform quality. However, because it is very difficult to breed sable, the farm sables make only 5-10% of the total number of commercially sold pelts.
Which sable is better: dark or light? The dark one is more expensive. As for beauty, one can argue about it, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Besides, golden and sand yellow shades are very much in demand now. Sometimes sable fur is blenched and colored. Nonetheless, the sable fur nature is so magnificent that is probable is the only fur, which designers try to use in its natural form.
Never eve fashion turned away from Russian sable. The geography of production of magnificent sable items is great. Our sable is used by Haute Couture Homes: Fendi, Gianfranco Ferre, Chanel, as well as by the famous Western fur designers: Giuliana Teso, Vinicio Pajaro, Fabio Gavazzi. Fur coats from Tsoukas Bros. & Sons became classics of sable fashion. Helen Yarmak, a Russian designer, is considered the queen of the Russian sable. Sable is represented in the collections of Irina Tantsurina and of Vtoroi Mechovoi, Ekaterina and Selvaggio. As for the styles and patterns, they are numerous. If in the past sable was treated rather conservatively, but since 1996, when Mark Jacobs shook the world by offering items of short cut sable, fur coats with fur turned inside, fail to surprise! Sable purses, dresses, suits, cloaks, jabots and scarves; sable does not lose its aristocratic nature from use in “small forms”. There probably is only one restriction in the sable world: finances.
Even though sable items are produced worldwide, the main place of acquisition of real sable pelts is St Petersburg International fur auctions held by Foreign Economic Association Sojuzpushnina, a unique specialist in sables. As far back as the Soviet times, when the state totally controlled sable trade, all pelts came to Sojuzpushnina, where they were carefully selected, sorted and prepared for the famous fur auctions. Small number of sable pelts comes to western fur auctions but one should be careful there, since this have happening only since 1990-ies, and in the West there are no qualified specialists for selection of sable fur. To present furs at an auction, they have to be carefully sorted, and this is real art. Even in Russia there are just a few experts in sorting sable furs. At least five years are needed to master the foundations of the profession and a few decades to become a real professional. That’s why foreigners still prefer to buy sable fur at our auction, it is much safer. The pelts bought at St Petersburg fur auction have fabric labels with the SOBOL trade mark, and most manufacturers put this label on the ready item, so that the buyer could be sure of the authenticity and the quality of the fur.
There were only a few hundred sable fur coats made, and each of them is a real gem. It is not without reason that the sable fur has no equal in tenderness, color, thickness and shine. It possesses all the above mentioned qualities like no other. That’s why an owner of a sable item can feel like a real queen even in the XXI century. The matter is not only in the value of the item, it was noted a long time ago that royal sable fur is able to maintain natural charm, beauty and peace of mind of its owner.
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