26 Years of jewellery research
Sigrid van Roode in a blue dress smiling at the camera

Nice to meet you!

I love objects. They have such power to tell us about the people who made them, used them and wore them! That is why I became an archaeologist: working with things to tell stories of people is magical. And when I came across traditional silver jewellery for the first time in Cairo, some 25 years ago, I wanted to hear their stories!

So I started reading, looking and talking with people all over North Africa and Southwest Asia. As I was sifting through bags and piles of dusty jewellery and spending many hours in libraries and museums, one by one these stories began to reveal themselves. Because jewellery tells us about the lives of women in a way that no history book does.

I believe these jewellery pieces are heritage and a historic source. But this heritage is disappearing fast. It is my mission to help carry the stories of jewellery and the women who wore them into the future. I do that by researching, by providing solid descriptions and most of all by sharing my knowledge with you. Together, we make sure these women and their stories are not forgotten. Will you join me…?

My mission

Why study adornment?

My goal is to get collected items of adornment from North Africa and Southwest Asia ready for the future. Jewellery, along with related forms of adornment, is heritage and forms a historic source of its own. I work to preserve the information they hold: many collections are currently on the eve of being handed over to the next generation, and sadly they often lose their identity in the process. ‘What is this?’ is the question I get asked the most! By researching and sharing the many stories it holds, I hope future generations will not only treasure the pieces themselves, but the history they represent as well. Because at the end of the day, we are passing through their lives.

Fingers holding a glinting Ottoman coin on a Palestinian hair ornament
Sharing knowledge

Books, articles, blogs

I am the author of over 10 books, all in the realm of cultural heritage, archaeology and jewellery. My books Desert Silver and Silver & Frankincense focus on jewellery and adornment from North Africa and Southwest Asia, as do many articles, both online and in print. Click ‘Learn more’ below to discover more and to order my books!

Cover of the book Desert Silver. Understanding traditional jewellery from the Middle East and North Africa
Sigrid van Roode in jeans and camel sweater, seated in a comfortable chair with copies of her book Desert Silver beside her
Sharing knowledge

Jewellery talks

Sharing the stories of adornment is one of my favourite things to do!  I have presented talks for a wide range of clients: from museum talks to travel specialists, from refugee programs to academic conferences, diplomatic clubs to cultural centers and expat circles…both online and in person.

My talks are accompanied by a well structured visual presentation. If at all possible, I will bring actual pieces to illustrate my talk further: jewellery, dress and related items. I also organize small scale workshops in which we explore the many capacities of personal adornment, such as world of fragrance or the many amuletic functions of adornment.

We hosted another successful and overwhelmingly well-received webinar. We would like to thank our wonderful guest speaker, Sigrid van Roode, for an excellent talk!

The Zay Initiative


Thank you for a fascinating presentation, beautifully presented with lots of new information for us to digest. Your time-keeping was impeccable, too.

Society of Jewellery Historians


Thank you again for speaking at Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center today. It was just perfect – we had so many great comments and questions!

Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center

Washington, D.C.

Hand holding a silver and red glass amulet from Siwa above a reference book with similar examples

Museum Consultancy

I work with museums in several fields. Personal adornment offers a caleidoscopic view of life and is an excellent medium to offer a more inclusive and multivocal presentation.

As guest curator, I develop exhibitions on traditional adornment, from exhibition concept to execution. I research and author the catalogue, exhibition texts, and develop adjacent programs for schools, guided tours, workshops, and lectures.

Collection research is another way in which I assist museums. From inventorying and describing complete collections to individual object identifications, I work with you to ensure a maximum visibility and information value of your collection.

Sharing knowledge

Research projects

I work on several research projects related to dress and adornment. These involve museum and academic projects, personal research projects and my PhD-research.

Topics include archaeological jewellery finds, collections of jewellery from North Africa and Southwest Asia, representations of jewellery in photography and art…They all bring different perspectives!

Two silver Egyptian zar pendants placed on shells, showing Sitt Safina and water spirits
Sigrid van Roode, wearing a blue and white necklace, sits at a table with books and looks at silver jewellery from Egypt and the Caucasus

Private Collections Consultancy

Do you remember where and when you found your first piece of traditional jewellery? That, and many other stories, is what I’m interested in when working with private collections.

Many private collections are on the brink of being passed on – but to whom? The history of private collecting really took off in the 1960s and 70s: the world was changing at a rapid pace, jewellery was sold off and acquired by tourists and expats alike.

Now, half a century later, the question arises…what will happen to your collection when you’re no longer around? I work with you to provide you with peace of mind: together we will set up your collection for a long and meaningful future. I have developed a free step-by-step guide for you to help you get started: let’s get organized!

Sharing knowledge

Book picks

Are you always on the lookout for new reading? I know I am! In my personal book recommendations I share books and other publications that present personal adornment, dress, culture and research. Most of these focus on North Africa, Southwest Asia and archaeological jewellery, but that is not the limit: there are so many topics that tie in with the world of personal adornment! I believe that we never stop learning, and so it is my great pleasure to share my favourite books with you!

A necklace from Ida ou Nadif, made of silver pendants, coral and amazonite beads placed on two books in a library

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