A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

The History of Jewellery in Islam

Issue 33
The History of Jewellery in Islam

By Prof. Dr. Hanan Qarquti

The jewellery industry has grown since ancient times. Some jewellery was made of bone and stones but, over time, it has been fashioned from gold or silver with pearls or coral.

In the Muslim world, methods of finding gold varied from place to place. Jayhoun River was one source of gold, because its tributaries passed the Gold Mountain.

In Wakhad village, people could access the Bakhshwa River, a branch of the Jayhoun. They used a local technique to extract gold from the river.

The best quality was Balakh Gold, both the red and yellow varieties. A small amount of other metals such as silver, copper or nickel was added to the gold in the manufacturing process; similarly, copper, zinc or lead was added to silver.

Throughout their history, Muslims have excelled in various industries, most notably the gold industry. The Orientalist Y. Hill said, “We read about a golden tree in one of the caliph’s halls, and a golden elephant with two ruby eyes. But we do not know whether these objects were made of pure gold or if they were only gold-plated.”

Gold and silver craftsmanship made up a significant share of trade. The Arabian Peninsula was famous for gold and silver. In Yemen, which benefited from its location on the shores of the Arabian Sea and its links to India and Africa, there were markets that specialised in selling silver and trading gold. Silver production and manufacture was not limited to the Arab countries, it also happened in other regions such as Persia.

From books and rare drawings such as those in Umra Palace, we know that jewellery and ornaments flourished during the Umayyad Era. These items no longer exist because goldsmiths collected and refashioned jewellery.

Crowns were popular; the female servants of the singer Jamila wore crowns.

During the Umayyad Era, women wore earrings as a form of adornment. Earrings similar to those of the Sasanians were discovered on statues of women in Hisham's Palace.

The jewellery industry developed in the Abbasid Era, when pearls, sapphires, coral, garnets, emeralds, aquamarines, turquoise and shells were used with gold and silver.

Some say that in the Abbasid Era Al Rashid adorned his wife Zubeidah with crowns in addition to jewellery and ornaments.

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