Entrepreneur Peter Thum founded Ethos Water eight years ago to fund clean water projects in Africa. He sold the company to Starbucks and managed the operation for Seattle’s finest until 2008 without taking one red cent in salary (presumably). During time spent on the dark continent, Thum noticed that the AK-47 was the most popular fashion accessory for African children (and adults but who’s looking?). Thum’s “solution”: beat those ballistic swords to fashionable plowshares. Fonderie 47 melts down African AKs into raw steel, then turns them into high-end objets d’blingfoxbusiness.com charts their progress . . .

Though Fonderie 47 is only just putting itself on the public’s radar, Thum says the company’s support of MAG [Mines Advisory Group] has already led to the destruction of more than 6,000 assault rifles. He is confident the company will continue to raise more toward the cause, through both donations and jewelry sales.

Strangely enough, no one (until now) thought to question the wisdom of disarming Africans in service of western fashionistas, what with the Rwandan genocide and the government brutality found in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Lest you think that Thum is just another misguided do-gooder motoring down the good intention paved road to hell, rest assured that the profit motive is an integral part of his plan.

“I think that the potential for us to generate funds from the company we have founded is significant and in the millions,” he says.

Subsidizing Thum’s dream isn’t for the faint of wallet. Unlike a bottle of Ethos water, Fonderie 47’s ballistic baubles ain’t cheap.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the collection is that the sale of each piece is tied to a specific number of weapons destroyed. For instance, a $25,600 ring will enable the destruction of 75 assault rifles; a set of $35,000 cufflinks will lead to the destruction of 100 assault rifles.

I wonder how much water they use in the manufacturing process and what they do with the excess heavy metals . . .

19 Responses to Fonderie 47: African AKs to Cufflinks

  1. So they buy AKs for $350 apiece and then melt them down? Sounds like they’re getting the guns at a bargain since real AKs (the full auto kind) usually go for more. I wonder if they do a gun buyback program or something. It would be interesting to know how they get the weapons in the first place.

    Furthermore, what do they do with all the excess steel? 100 rifles will make a lot more than 1 set of cufflinks.

    • AKs are a dime a dozen over there. The AK has always been a cheap rifle to manufacture, only once it has been imported into the US does the price skyrocket.

  2. I think this DWL (disingenuous white liberal) got ripped off. Rock and rolling AK’s went for $50 on the dark continent fairly recently. Well, 9 years ago when my fried visited Namibia to be exact. Maybe that isn’t “fairly recently” after all.

  3. It’s time for those of us in the armed community to step up to the plate. I propose that we pool our money and buy a whole bunch of these cufflinks, and then we’ll melt them down and use the molten metal to make an AK-47! It’ll probably take about $1,000,000 worth of cufflinks, but then we can take the highly symbolic weapon and raffle it off to make our money back. We’ll sell 1,000,000 tickets at $1 a piece. Who’s in?

  4. Seems to me a sharp businessman has found a brilliant way to make money off of idiots looking for yet another form of apologetic mental masturbation. 100 AK’s to make cuff links? $35,000 for said cuff links? The guy is full of shit. For 35k I can buy a brand new Jeep Rubicon chock full of cold, hard steel with plenty of cash left over to add lots more cold, hard steel in after market trail armor. The math ain’t hard. He’s simply preying on schmucks who want bragging rights at their next champagne dinner. Anyone dumb enough to buy those cuff links needs a good hard pimp slap just on sheer principle. I wonder how many new AK’s were produced worldwide in the time it took them to melt down their 6,000…

  5. Reducing the number of rifles in Africa might not be a bad idea. Where there is a functioning civil society and the rule of law, guns can be both commonplace and benign. In parts of the world without the rule of law (think Pakistan and most of Africa, for starters) the presence of so many durable and simple rifles is a catalyst for more intense and protracted violence. Africa already has plenty of violence, although the very worst of it (in Rwanda) didn’t involve many guns at all.

  6. I love the way Starbucks gives a whole *FIVE CENTS* to the cause for every bottle of Ethos water they sell.
    But if I were this guy, I’d sort the AKs… melt down and use only the ones that are definitely non-functional, and keep the best examples safely tucked away.

  7. I think its a great idea! Presumably the cost of the jewelery is funding the purchase of more AK47s rather than reflecting the actual cost of metal used in making rings or cufflinks. Well done to these guys for stepping out and making a difference – its easy to criticise and do nothing.

    • Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do. Or not do. You know what I mean . . . Congress’ recent gridlock on the budget is the best thing to happen to Washington in a long time.

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