In many ways Jewellery Designer Rany was the inspiration behind Temples and Markets. Her magical boutique is in a narrow lane just off the main part of Siem Reap town - not somewhere you'd just walk past. On 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, as well as that of many of the other artisans on our site needed to be shared. We wanted to bring her designs to a wider market outside of Cambodia and we're thrilled to be featuring them now on our E-Store.
Precious metal and gemstone do not feature in Siem Reap designer Rany's gleaming jewellry collection - instead, she uses over twenty different kinds of seed found growing locally to create delicate, intricate necklaces, bracelets and much more, recently branching out into clothing and homewares. Rany founded her company in 2011 after returning to Siem Reap, having been living in India for four years with her ex-husband. 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 neighbor," she says. "the seeds were very hard and I cut my hand. I couldn't do it so I paid a guy but he only worked for me one day. 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 designs all the jewellery by herself including the large statement piece necklace (pictured) worthy of the red carpet, and long pendants made of smooth brown lotus seeds, her favourite. "I'm keeping in their botanical nature, they gleam with a rich gloss achieved not from varnish but being rubbed with coconut and lemongrass oil, Which also gives them a pleasant aroma" she adds.
The selection of seeds 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."
Rany is quietly modest about her success. "it just started from word of mouth " She says. "then I started putting my jewellery in hotel "La residence D'Angkor and concept store Wa Gallery now sells her products too, while the new boutique hotel in town Sala Lodges recently commissioned her to make seed covered lampshades for the bathroom. There is also a stall at the monthly Made in Cambodia market. With plenty of ideas for the future Rany says "I would like to create something artistic, one idea I have is to do something with rice husks, I want to make some art with that. In the future I would like to have a small piece of land in the countryside and to have a proper workshop with all my plant, so I can show people what I do".