The stores allowed families to restart their lives.
The Los Angeles Times has published a story on the hundreds of jewelry stores in Southern California that are operated by people of Cambodian origin.
The stores are a result of the genocide that occurred in the Southeast Asian country from 1975 to 1979 under the Khmer Rouge regime. Many of the owners come from Cambodia's Pailin province and are ethnically Chinese, according to the Times.
The newspaper reports: "Chinese Cambodians were among the first to flee the country when Khmer Rouge forces seized the wealthy province’s assets."
Many of those who became refugees in the U.S. had a background in the jewelry business and were able to open their own stores. The businesses have allowed numerous families to restart their lives and support themselves. But now they face many of the same challenges that other jewelers do, such as competition from e-commerce operations.
Today, concentrations of Cambodian-owned jewelry stores are found in the downtown and Chinatown areas of Los Angeles as well as in Fullerton, the Little Saigon area of Orange County and the Cambodia Town area of Long Beach.
Historically, many Cambodians have viewed jewelry as a way to store wealth in lieu of banks, the Times notes.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times