Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Islamic Jewelry Goes Mainstream | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Not only does Islamic jewelry exude the rich heritage and history of the Islamic religion, it is also of personal value for many women whose pieces of Islamic-inspired jewelry commemorate occasions that are special to them, allowing them to recall these beautiful memories forever. These pieces of jewelry may have also been given to them by people close to their hearts.

For instance, a grandmother, who loves to shower gifts on her grandchildren, might give a pendant that reads ‘Ma Sha Allah’ meaning as ‘Allah has willed’, or ‘Tabarak Allah’ meaning ‘blessed is Allah’, as if reminding the person who is looking at the piece of jewelry to remember God. Also, a mother, for example, might be keen to give her daughter a pendant with Ayat al Kursi [the Verse of the Throne from the Quran] or the two Suras of Refuge [Surat al Falaq and Surat al Nas] to protect her from the envy of others.

However, what’s beautiful about Islamic jewelry today is that it has entered a new phase of elegant design that includes gold and precious stones, making them artistic masterpieces that go beyond the barriers of religious and cultural inspiration.

Mohammed Mamoun, who specializes in the designing and selling of Islamic jewelry, said that the blend of precious metals such as gold or silver with Islamic and Quranic phrases written in Arabic is one that is absolutely stunning.

Islamic jewelry is characterized by the fact that it is worn by members of all different social classes and by the young and the old. Moreover, it goes with most fashions and suits all tastes, making it a top gift choice for any occasion. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that jewelry designers and companies are working hard to bring out new pieces of jewelry that vary in weight and price, making them more available [to people of different backgrounds] and more marketable. Due to the rise in gold prices, some companies have brought out crystal pendants with Quranic verses written using small amounts of gold.

Mamoun also indicated that the perspective towards Islamic jewelry has changed significantly over the past decade. In the past, Islamic jewelry was associated with people from mountainous regions and women from working-class areas only. At that time Islamic jewelry was characterized by the large sizes of the pieces and traditional designs. However, designers later began to pay more attention to this kind of jewelry and to master its designs, and it was the same for international and local companies as they showed more interest in this regard and designed jewelry suitable for night and day, especially as it became more popular and people could have a Quranic verse, a Hadith [saying of the Prophet], an important saying or a verse of poetry adorned on a piece of jewelry.

Mohammed Mamoun explained that prices depend on the materials; the cheapest being silver and the most expensive being platinum and diamonds. The market today is full of modern designs of ranging sizes, mostly made of white gold and silver that can be worn on a daily basis. For special occasions there is yellow gold in addition to delicate designs that dominate [the market].

There are also numerous gemstones inspired by Islamic style. For example, turquoise stones or pearls go well with the Two Suras of Refuge; the Quranic verse “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest [Surat Raad; 28],” is frequently matched with red stones; ‘Ma Sha Allah’ can often be found on a pendant embellished in emeralds; and Ayat al Kursi and Surat al Tawhid, which a lot of Muslims in Egypt believe to be protective, can be found engraved on a gold or silver sheet that is split in two, each part to be worn by two people who pledge never to part. Finally, there is also the symbol of the crescent, which some people believe is drawn from heritage [rather than religion] even though it is a primarily a religious symbol, as it is mentioned a number of times in the Quran and in the noble teachings of the Prophet.