Noble Jewels

North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection

May 5 - August 8, 2010


The Arab American National Museum proudly presents an exhibition of spectacular jewelry and historic photographs from the North African nations of Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia.


Noble Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection presents approximately 80 never-before-exhibited pieces of stunning North African jewelry and late 19th- and early 20th-century photographs by some of the period’s most prominent photographers. Organized by the Museum for African Art in New York, Noble Jewels will be on view in the AANM’s Main Floor Gallery; the exhibition is free with Museum admission.

Collected over three decades by Xavier Guerrand-Hermès, Noble Jewels illuminates the diversity and beauty of traditional North African jewelry design. Ornate necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings show the inventive compositions and dazzling creations of North African jewelry designers and silver workers. Crafted from combinations of silver, coral, amber, coins and semi-precious stones, the exquisite collection includes wedding necklaces, hair ornaments, bracelets, earrings and fibula used to keep veils in place. The jewelry featured in Noble Jewels shows the common threads that run through North African societies, and also local variations in materials and motifs.


North African jewelry came to the attention of Western collectors in the 19th century, the period when archaeological monuments in North Africa were being explored, visited, and, in some cases, pillaged. The most important photographers of the day, including the Scotsman George Washington Wilson, the Neurdine brothers from France, and the Turkish photographer Pascal Sabah, visited the region and photographed landscapes, architecture, markets, and people adorned in their jewels. Many of the images were used in postcards, while others remained hidden in little-known collections.


Xavier Guerrand-Hermès (left) is a director and vice chairman of Hermès of Paris. He represents the fifth generation of the family to be involved in the ownership and management of the Paris-based firm. Guerrand-Hermès has founded the renowned Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, which actively supports inter-religious dialogues. He serves on a large number of boards, including the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions and the Dean’s Council of the Harvard Divinity School. He also serves as the Treasurer of the Religions for Peace Conference. With an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, Guerrand-Hermès is known for his expertise in the study of religion. He is an Honorary Fellow of Oxford University.

All are invited to celebrate the exhibition opening during a dessert reception in the AANM Community Courtyard from 5:30 - 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 5. Groups of eight or more may enjoy a new, North African-themed docent-guided tour of this show and the AANM’s permanent exhibits.

Noble Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection was organized by the Museum for African Art, New York and supported in part by the Robert Lehman Foundation.

AANM’s presentation is made possible in part by Ford Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

Jewelry Photos: Museum for African Art/Karin L. Willis

Museum for African Art
Ford Foundation
Kresge Foundation
13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126 - Phone (313) 582-AANM (2266) A Project of ACCESS