In many ways Khmer Jewellery Designer Rany was the inspiration behind Temples and Markets. Her first boutique was in a narrow lane just off the main part of Siem Reap town - not somewhere you'd just walk past. On Founder Judith's first visit to the magical town of Siem Reap, she was having a drink at the best cocktail bar in town - Miss Wong's. What a joy it was to see Rany's window display in her shop next door and discover the jewellery, the beautiful lady behind it and her story. Judith felt this story, her talent and her intricate creations needed to be shared with the world.
Precious metal and gemstone do not feature in Siem Reap designer Rany's gleaming jewellery collection - instead, she uses over twenty different kinds of seed and stones found growing locally to create delicate, intricate necklaces, bracelets and much more, recently branching out into bags, clothing and homewares.
Rany founded her company in 2011 after returning to her home Siem Reap from India where she'd gone through a marriage breakup. She always had an artistic streak and loved being creative but, as the oldest of seven children, had never had opportunities to go to art school or study design. On her return to Cambodia, times were tough for Rany as her parents disapproved of divorce and did not welcome her back into the family house. She moved out of the house but struggled to find work.
In her words "one day I was driving my motorbike and I was so sad in my life, so lonely. I saw some seed on the road so I stopped and collected them, " she says. Rany thought them pretty and immediately saw potential in the small, colourful seeds. She thought perhaps she could thread them together to create some kind of jewellery. But initially struggled to put her idea into practice.
" I have no idea how to make a hole, so I borrowed a drill from neighbour," she says. "the seeds were very hard and I cut my hand. I couldn't do it so I paid a guy. He said it was very hard, that It was a girl's job, and didn't want to do it" Reluctant to give up, Rany persevered and slowly worked out how to drill the tiny holes. Eventually producing a pair of earrings. she gradually built up a modest jewellery collection and started showing her work to friends at her birthday party. They were impressed and urged her to make more.
Now Rany has a staff of seven girls who hand make the products at her small workshop and show room behind Wat Domnak, which is surrounded by trees producing many of her seeds, such as the tiny white "Mary's tear" and the brilliant red "Jambie" seed. She has now expanded to 3 boutiques under the name Graines De Cambodge (Seeds of Cambodia) in Siem Reap and they are an absolute must to visit if you are in the magical town home to the Temples of Angkor.
Rany designs all the jewellery by herself. The selection of seeds for each design is a painstaking process - each one has to be a perfect size, shape and symmetry to fit Rany's design."At the beginning I went out and found the seeds myself," she says, " but now I go to the villages and they know what I want. They collect them for me."