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According to Bangkok-based designer and hotelier Bill Bensley, hotels should have a purpose, and the purpose of his resort Shinta Mani Wild is to protect Cambodia’s Cardamom National Forest. Though Bensley has designed hundreds of luxury resorts in Asia, it wasn’t until the opportunity to save nearly 850 acres of forest came up that he decided to open a hotel of his own. He purchased the land and built Shinta Mani Wild, a resort with just 15 luxury tents nestled in the forest. Guests zipline into the lobby, explore nearby Khmer temples, and immerse themselves in nature. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Wildlife Alliance, an American NGO that protects this vulnerable land from poaching and logging.
Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, Shinta Mani Wild has been closed for months and the forest is at risk. “I have committed to this for life, and if that means paying salaries out of my own pocket then I will try my best, but that just keeps our head above water, when we are facing a deluge of illegal activity that needs to be stopped,” Bensley said.
In search of a solution, Bensley teamed up with Australian jewelry designer and gemologist Kate McCoy to launch a collection of pieces whose proceeds will go to protecting this vulnerable habitat.
Inspired by the beautiful flora and traditional Khmer motifs she found on a visit to Shinta Mani Wild, McCoy has designed 20 pieces made with 18 karat gold and ethically sourced gems that range in price from $1,700 to $35,000.
Dubbed “Nature’s Treasury,” the collection features just five editions of each piece. There are tourmaline-and-demantoid garnet earrings inspired by bamboo, orchid-inspired earrings made with diamonds and rare amaranth garnets from Mozambique, and a set of stacking rings featuring black and white diamonds inspired by Bensley’s signature stripes. The orchid earrings, for example, will protect Shinta Mani Wild’s 843 acres for 66 days.
Each piece is stamped with an edition number and comes with gem and edition certificates. McCoy sources the gems first-hand, seeks out fairtrade suppliers, and uses recycled gold whenever possible. Each purchase comes with a special discount on a minimum three-night stay at Shinta Mani Wild worth 10% of the purchase price, which is valid for two years from the date of purchase.
“Nature’s Treasury is an invitation to invest in the reverence and protection of nature,” McCoy says. “Like heirloom jewelry is passed down through generations to cherish and enjoy, we believe that nature too is a legacy worth investing in and keeping safe.”