Costume

Although this website is focused on jewellery, it is important to add a few notes on its context. Jewellery from the Middle East and North Africa is always part of a larger ensemble. Many jewellery items are designed to fasten clothing or to keep textiles in place and as such form an integral part of traditional costume. Other pieces of jewellery have become so associated with the textiles they are worn on, such as veil ornaments, that it is very difficult to tell where the jewellery ends and the clothing begins. Both the study of costume and dress and the study of jewellery are specialistic fields of expertise; it is however important to bear in mind that the two are strongly related.

Changes in costume are often directly reflected in changes in the accompanying jewellery. Many jewellery items are no longer worn, simply because the costume they were are part of is no longer fashionable. For example, the large Berber fibula that kept the traditional dress of the Maghreb secure are no longer used, as the number of women wearing these garments is dwindling. Modern face veils are decorated in a different manner than one or two generations ago. Changing social conventions, religious developments and a shifting notion of the concept of identity are reflected in both dress and jewellery.