Jewelry makes up a substantial part of wearable heritage. All objects traditionally used to adorn the body also hold secondary functions such as to keep from harm, to bring good fortune, or to show social status. Jewelry often decorates the extremities of the body or the torso and head. All adornment worn not directly on the body but on dress we will address here as costume ornamentation. Jewelry is often seen as an economic investment in an environment where there are no banks or other means to keep money other than to carry it with you at all times. Sometimes jewelry has a specific occasional purpose. It is given to the bride on her wedding day, or to a mother when giving birth.
All jewelry from the Asian and African region is large in size, but often very delicately made. To be able to place jewelry roughly in its region or origin, a few characteristics of jewelry can be described, although it is impossible to address all features of jewelry here. Enamel is much used in the Maghreb region, most elaborately in Algeria, but also in Morocco. Here also amber is much evaluated and a very distinctive kind of costume ornament and jewelry of this region are the large fibulae influenced by the Roman period. Jewelry from Jordan and Palestine is often decorated with niëllo. Shapes in jewelry from this region resemble both Egyptian and Arab styles. On the Arab Peninsula jewelry is influenced much by India and often shows delicate granulation and filigree work as well as intricate chain work. This kind of jewelry is also typical for the other shore of the Red Sea: the Eastern African region. Egypt shows much engraved and embossed plate-jewelry shapes as well as large, hollow items for anklets.
In both the Maghreb, the Arab Peninsula and Palestine much red coral is used. More towards the Asian continent jewelry changes to even larger shapes, many different kinds of stones set (especially lapis lazuli) into the metal work and animal decorative styles dominate. Turkmen jewelry is characterized by the combination of gold leaf on the silver and silver itself. Often this is combined with the use of orange red stones like carnelian and sometimes lapis lazuli. For a good introduction on jewelry please check out the book Desert Silver and the website by Sigrid van Roode.