An AK-47, the world's most distributed assault rifle, conjures up a lot of images--and usually pretty jewelry isn't one of them. But thanks to new jewelry company and nonprofit organization Fonderie47 that might soon be changing and for a good cause too, reports the New York Times.
Struck by the profusion of AK-47s on a 2008 trip to Kenya, humanitarian leader Peter Thum saw an opportunity to get the guns off the street--and make something beautiful in the process. He, along with John Zapolski, soon founded Fonderie47, a jewelry company that creates original, high-fashion "wearable art" out of recovered AK-47 gun metal. "We saw the AK-47 as an opportunity because it’s such a successful design,” Thum told the New York Times. “It’s something that’s globally recognizable. What better way to turn things around than with this object, which represents so many things ugly, and turn it into something beautiful?”
Fonderie47 acquired AK-47s that the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo had confiscated from its North Kivu Province, and enlisted designers Philip Crangi, who designs the rings and earrings, and Roland Iten, who designs the cufflinks, to create jewelry out of the melted down steel components of the deadly assault rifle and reconfigure it with gold. The result? Really beautiful and one-of-a-kind earrings, rings and cufflinks that bare absolutely no resemblance to their original source material--except for the gun's serial number, etched into each design.
The jewelry isn't cheap--signet rings start at $25,600, and earrings go for around $23,000 a pair--but the money is at least going to a very good cause. Not only does Fonderie47 take AK-47s out of circulation in Africa--and find a beautiful purpose for their scraps--but proceeds from the jewelry sales help to finance nongovernmental organizations, like the Mines Advisory Group, which in turn are contracted by Congo’s government to destroy the weapons.