Stones in silver score Piseth jewellery award

Jeweller Ly Pisith has received an international award.
Jeweller Ly Pisith has received an international award. Nicky Sullivan

Stones in silver score Piseth jewellery award

Siem Reap bespoke jeweller Ly Pisieth has been recognised for his series of designs that evoke the vast carvings of the Angkorian temples

Ly Pisith, the artist behind bespoke Siem Reap jewellery store Garden of Desire, has finally received international recognition for his stunning – and famously philosophical – designs.

Pisith travelled to the International Innovative Craft Fair, held in Bangkok on March 19 and 20, where he was given the ASEAN Selection trophy for Cambodia at the Innovative Craft Awards 2015.

The awards, now in their fourth year, seek to recognise and promote locally crafted contemporary designs that are likely to meet the demands of national and international markets. For the ASEAN Selection, only one designer from each country is selected to represent that country each year.

Ly Pisith designed a range of jewellery incorporating stones that evoke Angkorian temples.
Ly Pisith designed a range of jewellery incorporating stones that evoke Angkorian temples. Nicky Sullivan

The theme for the awards was “Inspired by wisdom”, and Ly was recognised for his use of traditional craftsmanship and materials in his “Khmer collection”, a series that recalls the vast carvings in the Angkorian temples with its use of grey sandstone carved in a floral motif set in sterling silver.

According to Rinrada Kroeksupharak, a project coordinator for Peakchan Company Limited, the official organisers of the 2015 Innovative Craft Awards, Ly’s work truly reflected the theme through the use of sandstone and traditional techniques to create innovative designs that could be worn every day and in line with modern trends.

For Ly, whose work is famously philosophical, the work is more than a reflection on that theme. It is also a reflection on Cambodian society.

“I have been asked by so many people: Why do I use this stone – it’s not a precious stone? They say it doesn’t have any value,” he said.

“But to me, this is the most precious stone in Cambodia. It is what we used to build our temples. It’s our heritage, our identity, and we mustn’t forget where we are from. Too many people now, the rich people, they forget their own people, their country. And we mustn’t forget where we’re from.”

Ly eschews materialism to the greatest extent that he can. Employing simple materials into his art, yet finding their richer, deeper meaning is very much in keeping with his tradition.

“For me, jewellery doesn’t have to be ‘nice’, or ‘beautiful’,” he said. “It shouldn’t take over your personality, it should complement it. It should express something about you, rather than overshadowing you.”

Ly Pisith prefers to work in sterling silver than gold
Ly Pisith prefers to work in sterling silver than gold Nicky Sullivan

Most importantly for Ly, jewellery-making is about transformations, as much of the materials he works with as of himself and, in the process, of his own very complicated relationship with Cambodia, the country of his birth and the place where almost every member of his family met their deaths during the almost four years of the Khmer Rouge.

“When you create, it helps you to see who you are, and how you are. And to see the cage that you’re in. You can’t get out of the cage if you don’t know you’re in it. Many people think they are free, but only because they don’t know themselves.”

Ly’s contribution to their self-discovery lies also in his jewellery. While every single piece has a story – whether it is a meditation on man’s relationship with nature, or a sensually curved bracelet representing hope – but none of the stories are explained alongside the displays.

“People choose their pieces,” he said. “But they don’t always know why. That’s why I don’t have cards explaining what they’re about. It’s a garden. People can see for themselves what they make of it.”

For a long time it would seem that Ly was trapped in a cage made from a hatred of his own country. But he is coming to terms with his past and, with his last known relative, Cambodia itself.

“I am here for good now, and I am learning to love this country again. There is still hope for Cambodia.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • Close to the edge: Hair raising pictures from Kulen Mountain

    A new hair raising attraction on Kulen Mountain has finally opened to the public, with people flocking to the protruding cliff edge overlooking green mountainous forests to take photographs. The giant overhanging rock is situated in an area known as Mahendraparvata – an ancient city of

  • US warned not to interfere despite successful meeting

    A senior Ministry of National Defence official said the Tuesday meeting between the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H Felter and General Neang Phat had helped strengthen relations between the two countries’ militaries. However, a senior Cambodian People’