Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - In SR, leaving no stone unturned



In SR, leaving no stone unturned

One of Prak Rotana’s custom ring creations. Photo supplied
One of Prak Rotana’s custom ring creations. Photo supplied

In SR, leaving no stone unturned

For Siem Reap designer Prak Rotana, the inspiration to create jewellery has always been all around her. When Prak was a child, her mother - a fashion designer in the 1960s - used to purchase small gemstones from vendors who, carrying baskets of stones on their heads, would knock at her door. Unbeknownst to her at the time, these stones would be the beginning of Rotana’s collection years later.

More recently, Rotana befriended a local historian at the National Museum of Cambodia who introduced her to the now-closed Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture, which published work relating to jewellery, silver, gold and the tools used for the craft. After meeting some of the artists and students at the institute, she began sketching her own designs.

“Someone said to me, ‘You have so many ideas, just do something!” Rotana says. “Make jewellery to give to the gods.”

She began her journey in 2010, working with a purple amethyst her sister had given to her, turning it into a ring after four months of work. From that difficult beginning, she now works closely with members of her family in the jewellery business.

“There is a big cost benefit to working with family and a lot less risk,” she explains.

She also works with local artisans at the Psar Leur and Psar Chas markets. With the support of her friends and their network, she found investors for custom pieces to get her started and from there word has spread.

Rotana’s style is a fusion of classic and modern. She says that she studies the styles of jewellery depicted in Cambodia’s temples, as well as how people wore jewellery in the Angkorian period, then adapts those styles to a modern aesthetic.

Cambodia’s jewellery industry today is saturated, but custom designers are rare. Most jewellers use 3D-printing techniques to mass produce their designs.

For Rotana, however, one design is one item. She consults with her clients about the stones and designs, and each piece is a single edition. That individuality, imperfections and all, is the cornerstone of her business.

For now, Rotana is focusing on Cambodian stones – especially blue sapphires and rock crystals. She is also slowly collecting different varieties of jade from Myanmar, where she travelled as an almost broke student. “[Jade] is so beautiful,” she says. “Especially the white jade, [because] it has silver artefacts inside it.”

Although her operation remains small, Rotana has ambitious goals. “My biggest dream is to offer something to the King,” she says. “But I need to generate a lot more money first!”

Rotana’s Winter Bijou Collection is available to view and for purchase at The 1961, Upper West River Side, Siem Reap. Her website can be found at rotanajewel.com.

Reporting by Sarah Rhodes

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy