This is an unusual story, and one about jewelry with a very big price tag but at the same time a very happy ending. Peter Thum and John Zapolski merged there resources and talents a few years back into creating a company called Fonderie 47 which produces
exquisite and expensive jewelry and watches. What makes their company so very unique is that they create these limited edition pieces out of the reclaimed metals found in AK-47 rifles that have been confiscated from various conflicts in Africa.
This all began in 2010 when the pair acquired a cache of confiscated weapons from rangers in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thum and Zapolski sent home the steel parts of the weapons and decided to form a collaboration with several very talented jewelers and crafts people to create exclusive, small edition items and subsequently take the profits from those sales and use them to purchase more AK-47’s. The noble goal being to keep buying up these weapons before they fall into the wrong hands again.
The designers…and they are all top notch… include Roland Iten, Adrian Glessing, David Candaux, James de Givenchy and Philip Crangi. At present, the profits from the sales go primarily into supporting Mines Advisory Group (MAG), an international humanitarian group, that destroys stockpiles of weapons in third world countries that might end up either being stolen or fall into the wrong hands.
Fonderie 47 is a business with a strong social conscious and with a very important purpose. Thum and Zapolski estimate that there are 75million AK-47’s …also known as the Russian Avtomat Kalashnikova…in circulation around the world. They have personally seen children in Africa with these weapons in their hands and their goal is to make that possibility a rarity. The proliferation of these rifles causes untold violence against women and children and has a tremendous impact on economic growth in these countries.
The products produced by Fonderie47 are exquisite and highly refined and all come with a pretty steep price tag…think $20,000 and up. You cannot purchase any of them in a store as they are only sold at private events or by appointment. To date over 25,000 thousand AK-47’s have been destroyed as a result of the efforts of Thum and Zapolski. Although limited presently to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ultimate goal is to expand their program through out Africa.
I am impressed with the ingenuity of these two…taking something deadly and turning it into something beautiful…the ultimate fairy tale. However, this is not a fairy tale , but a real effort by a small company to rid the world of deadly weapons and in so doing change the world.
Three cheers for Thum and Zapolski and Fonderie 47 for focusing on where the problem lies. They believe that you cannot rebuild African communities until the guns disappear and I believe they are right on.
Thought you would find this story inspiring not only from a social perspective but also from a design point of view, for there is no doubt that the jewelry is simply gorgeous and the Inversion Principle Watch a masterpiece of design.
EXTRA COMMENTARY: Waxing politicaI for a moment, I couldn’t help but think that this all seemed so highly relevant to the present political discussions about guns in this country and our inability to recognize that guns are a destructive aspect in any society. What do you think?
Ciao, ciao “til next time!