Master jeweller Hoeu Sareth has come a long way from the small stall he opened in the Russian Market nearly 30 years ago, after surviving the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.
Back then he was known as Mr Sitdown, a moniker given to him by westerners who thought he was introducing himself rather than offering them a seat while they perused his works of silver and gold.
Now he has two shops in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap. From the vast array of business cards posted on the wall of his office, his clients range from UNTAC generals in the ’90s to members of the government and even the royal family. From wedding rings to statuettes, for foreigners and Cambodians, the jeweller said appealing to such a broad client base was challenging, but something he relished.
“Every design, every order, is what I learn from,” he said.
Starting from sketching designs to crafting a piece, which can take one to two months depending on the size and detail involved, Sareth said despite his years of practice, he has always learned something new.
“I’m still learning, even though I know everything. Some customers bring new designs and I have to work hard to make it the way they like,” he said.
“Every piece that I make for my customers is very meaningful to myself.”