How Cambodian refugees found a new life — and crisis-proof wealth — in Southern California's jewelry market
The Los Angeles Times | 7 August 2017
[Front page of LA Times. Peter and I went to the same high school, Valley Christian, 2 years behind me; we represented the only Cambodian families and among only a few other Asian families. Then; it's probably very different now. So proud of you, Peter Pheng Young! - Theary C. Seng]
Cambodian jewelers have become well known in the business. The Youngs are now the official crown jeweler of the Miss California USA, and Young’s son Peter designed the crown.
In the piece, diamond-encrusted patterns form stars for Hollywood and waves for the ocean. In the center is a single blue sapphire. It represents one of the jewels his father brought with him as he fled Cambodia.
There isn’t any single reason for the proliferation of Cambodian jewelry stores. But a large proportion of jewelry store owners, like Young, are ethnically Chinese Cambodians from the mining province of Pailin, which contains several gem mines.