Colours often work by association. In jewelry, colours that have some symbolic meaning are often selected for amulets.
The two most powerful colours are probably red and blue, and they both dominate the jewelry of the Middle East. Red is most common; related to both blood and to the heart, it can be interpreted as representing passion and love as well as danger and evil. Blue, the colour of sky and water, features strongly in the Berber enamelling of Algeria as well as in the jewelry of Saudi-Arabia and Yemen, where turquoise is used prominently in rings and pendants; in Syria, Jordan and Palestine blue beads are used as inlays in silver jewelry.
In addition to the main colours blue and red, many other colours are used for a specific reason. Green is regarded as the colour of rejuvenation, growth and new life. Yellow is said to capture the radiating warmth of the sun, but is also seen as the colour of the desert. Together with the life-bringing green and the blue of water, these three colours together are regarded to symbolize the daily environment of mankind in North Africa: desert, vegetation, water and air.
White is used often in relation to birth and motherhood. As the colour of semen and milk, it is closely connected to new life, enables breastfeeding and protects young mothers and their children. Usually, the power of the colour is enhanced by the material chosen for a certain jewelry piece. However, sometimes the colour itself is the main concern. This leads to items of precious materials such as coral and cornaline, in which glass and even plastic beads of red have been added. In this case, the only defining element is the colour.
This necklace from Oman is a wonderful example of the combination of colour and material. The deep red colour fits into the long tradition of the region, the reflecting abilities of the material are thought to enhance the necklaces’ effectivity in deflecting evil from the wearer.