Desert Silver – Understanding traditional jewellery from the Middle East and North Africa. The title says it all. Sigrid van Roode is a well-known jewellery historian and regular contributor and advisor to The Zay Initiative. This book is a fully revised and updated second edition of Desert Silver, first published in 2010.

Desert Silver Content

Desert Silver

Author: Sigrid van Roode
Photographers: Sigrid van Roode, Jolanda Bos
Publisher: BLKVLD Publishers

Format & layout

270 x 240 mm (10”8’ x 9″5’)
168 pages paperback



The book is divided into six chapters, each with several sub-topics. The chapters cover themes such as types of jewellery, history, the economy, religion, status, and jewellery as talisman or protection.

Between the chapters, Sigrid added short, one-spread additional stories relating jewellery to other themes such as the silversmith, storing jewellery, jewellery in poetry and ritual, and understanding jewellery.

A foreword and introduction at the front of the book and a detailed bibliography at the end complete the generous content of the book. A valuable addition to the updated edition of Desert Silver is the detailed endnotes at the conclusion of each chapter.


Photos, illustrations, maps

Photos, Illustrations & Diagrams

From the front cover to the last page, this book is richly illustrated with colour images and a few full-page coloured maps. The images depict jewellery objects both displayed in detail and in the context they were worn and used. This gives a sense of vitality to book, raising it from an academic journal to a sensory journey through the world of Arab jewellery.

The images provide a well-balanced view of jewellery from the Arab world both as an object and as a part of life, custom, and history. The maps give a good overview of the historical and geographical context of the jewellery displayed and discussed in the book.




Sigrid’s devotion to her topic is evident from the first page. This is not just an academic book; it is a labour of love. The images are beautiful, clear, and descriptive, yet capturing the spirit, ambience, and patina of each piece.

The layout is clear, easy to consume, and highly informative. The writing is easy to read and offers a good balance between academic facts, historical context, and the stories of the people who wore these pieces of jewellery.

If you know nothing about jewellery from the Arab world, you will find this a perfect introduction that will entice you to read and learn more, even to start your own collection. If you are already knowledgeable about Arab jewellery, this is a wonderful book to put it all into context and to understand the relevance and value of these items. If you own or wear Arab jewellery, this book is a celebration of your cultural treasures and your heritage.

Get your copy here.

*Sigrid van Roode will be a guest on our popular webinar series Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion with Dr Reem el Mutwalli. To learn more and to book your place visit our Events page.