The Hand of Fatima, symbolizing the number 5

Certain numbers carry extra meaning and are therefore most significant to use in jewelry as protection. The uneven numbers as three, five and seven are the most used of these numbers.

Three is an important number as it symbolizes the cycle of birth, life and death. It is also regarded as the triade of male, female and child. The number three is often worked into jewelry as a triangular shape or as the repetition of a certain motif in groups of three. In the Nubian amulet below, three is represented as the pyramid-shapes of the amulet itself, in the repetition of the triangular shapes, in the floral motifs with three leaves on each triangle, in the double band of triangles at the bottom and in the three eyes below the pendant, where extra dangles would have hung.

Five is the most important number in Islam. The five pillars of faith and the five daily prayers echo the importance of this number. The fifth day of the week, Thursday, is regarded as beneficial. Five represents the universe in order, with mankind in the centre of the four cardinal points. By working the number five into jewelry, this universal order is kept and its blessings are transferred on to the wearer. The tabzimt form Algeria shows this miniature universe in the use of colour and numbers. The five coral cabochons represent the number five, the four enameled leaves depict the four cardinal points, and the use of blue, green and yellow stand for the water and sky, vegetation and new life, and radiating sunlight.

Seven is an important number since antiquity. The seven known planets were often connected with colours and days of the week, as soon as the seven-day-week came into existence. Rituals and certain spells need to be repeated seven times. A woollen cord with seven knots helps against colds and influenza in Egypt, and the seven turtles on the Hebron bracelets guarantee fertility and health.