Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Local gems with a story to tell

Local gems with a story to tell

A store attendant handles jewellery at Chamazo’s showroom on Wednesday afternoon in Phnom Penh.
A store attendant handles jewellery at Chamazo’s showroom on Wednesday afternoon in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Local gems with a story to tell

Chamazo, a high-end jewellery workshop and gallery in Phnom Penh, is gearing up for expansion and seeking new international markets for its locally inspired designs.

The project, started by French national Anne Marie Ros in 2011, employs and trains Cambodian women in jewellery-making techniques, and incorporates local materials into its handcrafted products. Its five full-time jewellery makers take an active role in its product development.

“There is always a link with Cambodia in the design process, resulting in jewellery that has a Khmer spirit and a French touch,” explained Pauline Hunot, the company’s operations manager. “Most of our materials are from Cambodia and Chamazo is one of the only companies to actually work with local gems in our products.”

Jewellery on display in Chamazo’s showroom incorporates a variety of local materials, such as quartz from the Takeo province, zircon and amethyst from Ratanakkiri province, and locally sourced silver and onyx. However, some products include imported pearls and jade from China, as these materials are not found in Cambodia.

The showroom is currently open by appointment only due to staffing limitations, but the company plans to train more local staff and switch to regular store hours, according to Hunot. Meanwhile, Chamazo is looking to partner with large department stores abroad to sell its unique jewellery products.

Dominique Dufieux, the company’s marketing and communications director, said consumers in overseas markets have been receptive to the jewellery products – and particularly the Cambodian story behind them.“Wherever I travel people are very interested in our products,” she said.

“However, so far our problem has been that Chamazo is not yet a fully established brand and we lack visibility.”

She said the company’s next big push is to generate awareness and find sales channels in Thailand and Japan.

Aya Kimura, chief editor of the Cambodia-based magazine Phnom, which caters to the Kingdom’s growing Japanese expatriate population, was optimistic that the company would be well received by Japanese consumers.

“Japanese customers are always looking for a story behind the product and here is a good example for that, with stones that come from Ratanakkiri or Mondulkiri and Cambodian women making the jewellery by hand,” she explained.

“That is very important for Japanese customers.”

Kimura said success in Japan would still pose a challenge, and Chamazo would need to better define its story and show why its products are unique. To do so, she advised promoting the distinct Cambodian origin of the jewellery.

“Cambodia is a mysterious place for the Japanese people because they still have the image of its troubled history, but these gems offer something different from that image, which is a surprise,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the