From my personal observations, I think that Saudi women tend to receive more jewelry than women in other places of the world. In my opinion, they receive jewelry as it is a symbol of love, affection and security.
The young Saudi girl growing up will generally receive her first piece of jewelry when she is less than six months old. This piece will be either gold or diamond posts placed at the time she gets her ears pierced. As she grows older, her parents and particularly her father, will continue to add to her jewelry occasion. On special occasions, she may be the recipient of a ring, bracelet or necklace.
The jewelry in Saudi Arabia is exquisite and also costs much less than elsewhere in the world, taking into account the quality and craftsmanship.
Naturally as the wedding day approaches for the young Saudi woman, it is traditional for her to receive multiple pieces of gold jewelry. This is her dowry and her security net for herself in the event of any future troubles. It’s not only the future groom and his family who present gold jewelry to the bride, but other family members and friends may also give her gold jewelry as a gift.
I remember shortly after arriving in Saudi Arabia and receiving pieces of gold jewelry from Saudis to whom I was not related but who were long time friends of my husband. I felt awkward as an American receiving gold jewelry from someone who I did not know well but my late husband reassured me it was tradition.
The Saudi woman will continue to receive exquisite pieces of jewelry on the special occasions throughout her life. These occasions will include when she becomes pregnant, when she gives birth and for many women, the husband presents his wife with a new piece of jewelry on Eid al Adha in celebration.
The modern Saudis who do recognize Valentines Day and Mother’s Day will likely give the special women in their life jewelry at those times too. Men who have had to travel without their wives are known to bring back a present of jewelry.
Saudi women may not flaunt their jewelry collection but they are certainly proud of it. The more jewelry a Saudi woman has received from her father and her husband is interpreted to illustrate how special and loved she is.
However, there are other times when a woman may receive jewelry that has a mixed message. If a Saudi man feels he has wronged his wife, he may also try to make amends by surprising her with jewelry. This can go from the man who was late for a family function to the man who choose to take another wife. He believes that he can soften the blow and disappointment with jewelry.
Some Saudi women who are in an unhappy marriage may negotiate for acquisition of more jewelry. The Saudi woman knows that in a time of emergency the gold jewelry can be converted to cash in a time of extreme need.
While the Saudi woman sees her jewelry as her security blanket, the American woman at times may discourage her husband from giving her jewelry. It really comes down to not just the individual, but the culture in which one was raised.
Let me end this post by asking American Bedu readers, if a “wrong” has been committed by a man, is jewelry a satisfactory means to make amends for the wrong?