All The Brilliants

Empress Theodora Fulco di Verdura

A Power Woman narrative celebrating Empress Theodora, a Byzantine brooch from The Morgan Library and a Theodora brooch by Fulco di Verdura in collaboration with Coco Chanel.

Empress Theodora


Empress Theodora: the powerful, controversial better half of Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire. From humble beginnings rose a beautiful, intelligent, strategic, courageous women who championed Women's Rights through legislation and saved the crown during the Nika Revolt in 532 AD with this epically Famous Speech: 

"Whether or not a woman should give an example of courage to men, is neither here nor there. At a moment of desperate danger one must do what one can. I think that flight, even if it brings us to safety, is not in our interest. Every man born to see the light of day must die. But that one who has been emperor should become an exile I cannot bear. May I never be without the purple I wear, nor live to see the day when men do not call me 'Your Majesty.' If you wish safety, my Lord, that is an easy matter. We are rich, and there is the sea, and yonder our ships. But consider whether if you reach safety you may not desire to exchange that safety for death. As for me, I like the old saying, that the purple is the noblest shroud."

Byzantine mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna Italy. 547 AD

Byzantine Brooch The Morgan Library


Christian Crosses, jeweled disk brooches and elaborate necklaces were all the rage for Byzantine women. This mesmerizing disk brooch of garnet, glass, and gold is exactly why!

450 - 500 AD @TheMorganLibrary

Theodora Brooch Fulco di Verdura


Empress Theodora remains a fierce muse, as per the iconic Theodora and Ravenna brooches! They sparked a brilliant collaboration between to legends: Fulco di Verdura and Coco Chanel in the 1930’s.