Angkor Bullet Jewellery is a social enterprise founded by Chantha Thoenun. Chantha’s mother passed away when he was 4 years old and his father was killed by Khmer Rouge when he was 8, so Chantha went to live with his grandparents.
At age 12, with the support from a local NGO, Chantha went to train as a jeweler and silversmith in Pusat province. After finishing his education, he worked for more than 10 years in jewelry design and jewelry making for an NGO, until 2011, when he decided to start his own business, Angkor Bullet Jewellery, together with his wife Thearny Kol. Angkor Bullet Jewellery works with a home-based team of jewelry artisans, and together they transform old Khmer Rouge bullet casings and bombshells into beautiful pieces of jewelry.
Chantha tells me his story without any bitterness in his voice. He was deprived of his family and his childhood, but instead of letting hatred and blame fill his mind, he has decided to focus on what can be done to prevent history from repeating, and he wants his jewelry to serve as a reminder that we should never let this happen again.
Angkor Bullet Jewellery primarily employs people without education, who would otherwise have difficulties finding a job. At Angkor Bullet they receive training and a fair wage, and the opportunity to work from home makes it possible for single moms and housewives to also earn an income.
In the video below, I visit Chantha in his workshop and he tells me about his life and the course of events that lead him to start Angkor Bullet Jewellery:
Some words from Chantha – Designer and founder
I use bullet casings and bomb shells as I want to show the plight of the Khmer people and what we have had to endure in our recent past. I believe it is a strong statement about my country and what the Khmer people can do. It expresses hope rising from tragic circumstances and this inspires my designs. Turning something negative that was used to kill millions of Khmer people including my dad into something of beauty, hope, strength and endurance! From war to peace.
If you are in Cambodia and want to buy jewelry, you can send Chantha and his team a message on Facebook.