My story with personal adornment began over 25 years ago. I came across traditional silver jewellery for the first time in Cairo, and realized that like archaeology, which I work with on a daily basis, these pieces are a historic source.
So I started reading, looking and talking with people all over North Africa and Southwest Asia. While I was sifting through bags and piles of dusty jewellery, drinking strong tea in the back of stores and marketplaces, and spending many hours in libraries and museums, one by one the stories began to reveal themselves. Jewellery pieces tell us about the lives of women in a way that no history book does. They communicate identity and values from within. They are heritage.
These heritage pieces have traveled to all corners of the world. They have been collected with love, but they also have become isolated, far away from their first lives. That is where I come in: by providing solid descriptions and attributions as well as sharing the stories of their lives I reconnect them to their cultural background. I make collected items of adornment ready for a long future.
Sigrid van Roode
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 bodily 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 identifying and describing adornment I aim to keep that from happening, and 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.
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!
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!
Thank you for a fascinating presentation, beautifully presented with lots of new information for us to digest. Your time-keeping was impeccable, too.
Thank you again for speaking at Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center today. It was just perfect – we had so many great comments and questions!
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.
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!
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!
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!