Ammo was founded by British jeweller Madeline Green in 2013, as a result of a collaboration with social enterprise Saomao , (training artisan jewellers for the last 20 years). Inspired by their Cambodian tradition of melting found bullets to make jewellery – at Ammo, we recycle blank brass cartridges that have been fired once (in practice, rather than from bloodshed). For us its a great symbol of transformation for Cambodia and for its incredible people – creating ‘Beauty from Destruction’!
Situated just 7 km from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat, Ammo Workshop is a centre of creativity, fair trade principles, and ethical artisan crafts. The aim of our social enterprise is to address issues of poverty in Cambodia, and provide opportunity through mentorship and skills training. Madeline and the management team offer apprenticeships in jewellery production to young, disabled and disadvantaged Cambodians. Once students have graduated, they become employed artisans, learning master skills such as fine piercing, gemstone setting, and designing their own jewellery, which Ammo then launch to market and sell internationally. Our final mission (through fundraising and community support) is to nurture and assist our jewellers to become independent home-based artisans, with their own tools and facilities. This last stage is a particularly beneficial to our female employees with children – heres one of our jewellers story to find out more…
Nary is one of our most successful jewellers who we are fortunate to have at Ammo for the last four years. She has developed so much in that time and we are keen to support her with her next steps as a jewellery designer. Nary had a challenging start in life as her family was troubled with gambling, alcohol and abuse and she narrowly escaped being sold into child prostitution. She attended school very late, when she began to receive support from local NGO, Green Gecko. At 18 she left formal education to work to support her family. Her sister was working with Ammo and Nary was immediately fascinated, she says ‘I saw the bullets and I didn’t know that they could make such beautiful jewellery – wow, I was so interested!’. She became her sister’s assistant, joining the Ammo team soon after.
In 2016 Nary shared that she wanted be a designer, so Founder Maddy started a weekly ‘Design Day’ for the team to develop their creative skills. Nary excelled; developing her own designs, creating her own logo and company name: KunMani (her parents’ names combined). In November 2016 she had her own show, sharing her collection with the world. Ammo supported her with development, costing and marketing. The launch was a great success, with many pieces sold! She went on to sell her designs at Made in Cambodia Market on Kings Road. Nary was delighted, but soon after her career had to go on hold as she got married and became mum.
She recently returned to Ammo part time as our Jewellery Workshop Teacher, this flexible role plays to her new found strengths of teaching which have been uncovered since she has been a mum, and help her work around her family’s needs. Sadly, this part of her role is currently on hold due to COVID19. Once life is back to normal Nary is keen to dive back into her jewellery making too and is determined to balance her career and homelife, supporting her husband business and covering childcare. Many Khmer women finish work when they marry, especially once they have children, but Nary has an unwavering dream. In the next five years she says she would love to ‘be making my own jewellery and have a small shop to sell it too. I would like to employ people like me who have few options, help people and pass this knowledge on to other Cambodian people and my children.’ Ammo is resolute in our support of her facilitating her to design a 30 piece collection in early 2021. Nary’s biggest barrier is childcare, so she needs to be able to work from home, which will also support her in becoming more independent and developing her own business.
If there are any funds left over from this campaign we will plough them into helping Nary develop her own collection and hope to be able to support other team members in this way in the future. As Nary makes sales from her collection she will pay a percentage of this support ‘forward’ to set up another jeweller to work from home too.
Meet the team
Madeline has worked in jewellery making for over 20 years. In the UK, she received a BA Hons in 3 Dimensional Design and subsequently worked freelance as a jeweller and art coordinator for many years in Oxfordshire. In 2013 Madeline founded Ammo Jewellery and set up her own purpose built workshop in Cambodia to create a vocational training programme in jewellery design. Since starting, Ammo has trained eight young Cambodians to become jewellers (including three females). Madeline provides design consultancy services for individuals and other social enterprises. She is passionate about ethical fashion and sharing Cambodian craftsmanship with the world!
This is Philit, he is our master jeweller in charge of teaching all our new apprentices. He is kind of the big brother for everyone at Ammo. Working with us for over three years, he’s become both a talented jeweller and a real team player. Philit has a unique design style, unlike the rest of us who scratch our head for hours, Philit just sits quietly thinking and then in the blink of an eye, he’s created a totally original piece of jewellery.
We hope you’ll love his modern Cambodian designs!
Nimol is 21 years old and our newest apprentice. She is currently mastering the Ammo collections, so creating her own pieces was a daunting task to begin with. It hasn’t taken long for her own style to shine through and we love her feminine designs! Nimol was recommended to Ammo by people at a local pagoda, where she was studying and trying to find ways to support her family.