The Enemy Is A Very Good Teacher: Purple Buddha Project Transforms War Into Beauty


Between 1965-1973, 2.7 million tons of bombs were dropped in Cambodia – 30% of which failed to detonate.  These weapons of conflict serve one unimaginable purpose.  Now, we typically don’t associate the words empowerment, ethics or sustainability with weapons of conflict but Purple Buddha Project (PBP) is doing just that – one piece of jewelry at a time.


Purple Buddha Project Founder Forrest Curran

The vision of Forrest Curran (pictured left), PBP empowers disadvantaged local Cambodian artisans by creating fair-wage (jewelry making) jobs. Each upcycled jewelry piece is hand crafted of UXO, bomb, bullet, or plane parts from remains of conflict in the countries of Cambodia and Laos.

PBP taps into local associations such as Ranjana Association of Cambodia and Ten Thousand Villages to oversee PBP work.  Local associations are tasked with jewelry making training, a skill which can be practiced worldwide.

Material sourcing

PBP’s partner cooperative works exclusively with Halo Trust, the world’s oldest and largest de-mining group. A humanitarian landmine clearing agency, Halo Trust safely clears weapons of conflict from these war torn communities.  De-mined UXO, bombs, bullets, and plane parts are then handcrafted by PBP artisans into unique pieces of art.

Transforming intended destruction into beauty

PBP’s 2014 Fall Collection is based on one foundation – that we can learn something from the past and use it today to change the future. Upcycling artifacts from around the world, PBP integrates these objects of history into jewelry constructed in Cambodia. Collection artifacts include;

  • Weapons of conflict from Cambodia
  • Bits of meteorites from space
  • Coins used by the British in trade during British Colonial rule in India by the British East India Company
  • Fragments of the Berlin Wall.

Typically these bullet shells, bombshells, or weapon remains would be sold as scrap metal (by the kilogram) to large corporations or worse, reused as weapon parts by armies and rebels.

Based on virtues in sustainability and upcycling, PBP looks to change the future through the past while embedding a strong message into each jewelry piece.With the sale of each jewelry piece, PBP makes a donation to inspect and remove 3m of land for UXOs that have yet to detonate.

pbp bracelet

With a pledge during their kickstarter project, donors can receive a jewelry piece that integrates history into fashion while empowering the people of Cambodia. Bracelets and Necklaces are available starting at $45.

Imagery provided courtesy of Purple Buddha Project.

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Chase Ezell

Chase has served in various public relations, communications and sustainability roles. He is a former managing editor for