Thoeun Chantha, a goldsmith from Cambodia has dedicated his time to transforming five kilograms of brass AK-47 and M-16 bullet casings into jewellery to promote world peace. The 42-year-old runs his workshop to turn symbols of violence into wearable art. Chantha’s father was killed during Cambodia’s years of war, “I’m a victim of the war as a Cambodian who lost family members in it and now the world is at war too,” he says.
Chantha’s passion for creating unique pieces of jewellery has taken him on a journey that not only provides him with a creative outlet but also helps to promote peace and unity within his community. He begins his process by collecting bullets from various shooting ranges and military training grounds around Phnom Penh, carefully selecting only those deemed safe for use. Once he has gathered enough materials, he takes them to his workshop where he melts them down and pours the molten metal into a cylindrical mould. After cooling in a bucket of water, the bullet metals are then shaped by hand into various jewellery pieces including bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings.
What makes Chantha’s jewellery so unique is the story behind each piece. They are not just accessories, but rather symbols of hope for a better future. He says, “I make this to show that the world doesn’t want war, separation, and we all want peace.” His jewellery is a tangible reminder that despite our differences, we all share a common desire for peace and unity.
In addition to his passion for creating meaningful jewellery, Chantha’s work also helps to create jobs within his community. By utilising local resources, he can contribute to the local economy and provide employment opportunities. Chantha’s jewellery is more than just a product – it represents his values and a means of promoting positive change within his community and has popularised in sales amongst tourists.