Wearing an ASOS top and pieces from my personal Bedouin jewellery collection.
If you have been reading my blog for quite a while, you would have noticed that jewellery has always been something I emphasised in my outfits. Actually, I don’t think an outfit minus the bracelets, earrings, necklaces etc exists on this blog. This is how I am on a daily basis too – I feel exposed, naked even, if I run out of the house without rings on. This leads me to the topic of Bedouin jewellery.
Despite the fact that the Bedouin jewellery has a predominantly vintage look, one will almost never find a truly old (i.e. 100 years old) piece. Having said that, it has been claimed that some metal components come from the times of King Solomon. Of course, no one can prove that these tales are true. The reason why real ancient or indeed vintage pieces are very rare is that the jewellery is melted down soon after their owner passes away. The metal is then used for designing new necklaces, earrings and bracelets for other women in the family – most often as a form of dowry or wedding gifts.
Interestingly, some US readers might have noticed that Middle Eastern Bedouin jewellery is strangely similar to that of certain Native American tribes. The similarities can be found in the designs, use and placement of stones (most often semi precious such as turquoise or carnelian) as well as the sizes of the adornments. It has been suggested that the reason behind this likeness was that the first travelers who sailed to the US (from Spain or Portugal) have brought the Bedouin trend with them. Lest we forget, the expansion of Islam along with the traditions and culture has reached the Iberian peninsula in 720. The Spanish Inquisition hoped that it had wiped Islam out completely from the country by 1499. While the religion sank deep into the underground at the time (people still secretly performed prayers), the influence on the design and culture is evident even until this day.
I should also mention that because Bedouin silver is constantly melted and redesigned, more metals are mixed into the isotopes meaning that the purity of silver is significantly lower than sterling (925). It is worth being wary of this, especially when purchasing earrings, as those sensitive to certain metals might have allergic reactions therefore should give Bedouin earrings a miss unfortunately.
I personally am fanatical about the design – when mixed with evening-wear they add a dark, sinister edge. When paired with day outfits, they add a tribal flare.
Bedouin jewellery is so meticulously detailed and oversized, it almost makes clothes optional.
Information on Bedouin Jewellery taken from an article found in Saudi Aramco World which appeared in the March/April 1979 issue.