E-course Dowry & Status

when jewellery was money
independent women

Dowry and Status

‘Why is jewellery so important in weddings?’ Before banks and plastic money, jewellery was a woman’s savings account and the basis for her financial independence. The social and financial significance of jewellery from North Africa and the Middle East is unfamiliar to many, but after this course, you can speak with confidence about this little-known aspect of your jewellery. Can you actually pay with coins that are sewn on headdresses? Why can’t many young men afford to marry? And what does jewellery reveal about social status? Learn the answers to these and many other topics in this course!

get insight in 8 days

All you need is 15 minutes

This is the easiest course ever to fit into your schedule. Honestly. No rushing, no squeezing in fixed course times. Watch and learn whenever it suits you. 

‘I would love to take a course, but I don’t know when…’ Sound familiar? Our days fill up quickly, and so we are quick to skip those things we actually enjoy the most: a moment to relax, to explore, to enjoy our favourite topic. I have designed this course with you in mind: 2 hours is a lot to ask, but 15 minutes for a topic you are curious about…? Scrolling online to find more on jewellery takes up more time – and with less results. (Spoiler alert: each episode is packed with online references, so I’ve got that covered for you, too)

So this course is not another item on your to do-list. This course is the break you’ve been wanting!

All you need is 15 minutes and an Internet connection. You could be enjoying the first episode in 10 minutes from now….!


jewellery in a woman’s life

What will I learn?

You will dive into a world where jewellery was a woman’s main financial asset. She was the CFO of her household and ran informal networks that functioned as microfinancing initiative. In this course, we will explore the world of the dowry and of social status. Why are some coins still being minted, even though they are no longer accepted currency? What capacities do coins have as amulets? You will learn how savvy women invest and save, hear about the intricacies of marriage negotiations, and get an idea of the astounding length and width of collective mental bookkeeping. But there is more: how to keep up appearances in economic crises, how to communicate social status through jewellery, and how to signal your mother in law about marital problems by subtle hints in jewellery…as well as jewellery in rituals throughout life: this course takes you along to those moments where jewellery was not just beautiful, but vital in a woman’s life.

Your course is a wonderful complete package — your lovely speaking voice, the content and how topics tie together, the amazing slide deck, and on and on. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. You really have a wonderful delivery style and I think your speaking voice and pace appeals to a broad range of English speakers and English abilities.

Noel Adorno

Vonda's Treasures

about me

Your instructor

All classes are researched, prepared and taught by Sigrid van Roode. I have been presenting classes, courses, workshops and jewellery talks for the better part of two decades now, and am the author of two books on jewellery from North Africa and the Middle East. My goal is to present academic level research in an accessible, fun and easy to follow style. I believe jewellery is not just adornment, but an important historic source that tells us so much about the lives of women – and I’ll be showing you in how many ways that works!

dowry and status


E-book package

With this prerecorded lecture series, you will receive 8 full-colour e-books. These contain not only the course material, but also present you with book recommendations, online reading material and additional images. The e-books are yours to download and keep: your own jewellery library!

Online community

You will have access to our private online community on Facebook. Here, you will be able to get any questions answered and enjoy the world of jewellery with other course participants from around the globe – with as many angles, comparisons and personal stories to share!

This class is definitely for you when:

  • you are interested in jewellery and dress from North Africa and Southwest Asia, and in the many traditions and cultures of the region;
  • you work with dress and adornment from the region as curator, designer, dancer, instructor or collector;
  • you inherited jewellery and would like to learn more about its background;
  • you have lived or are living in the region as an expat and would like to understand more about its history and culture;
  • you are curious to look beyond your own culture or country;
  • you care about jewellery and cherish jewellery items as the heritage pieces they are.