Cover Janice Lee, co-founder and sales director of Les Precieux

In the second of a two-part series, these top jewellers from Singapore reflect on the ups and downs of a trying year, and share with us their proudest achievements

For Singapore's top jewellers, success is no coincidence. Though the challenges they face and the triumphs they experience couldn't be more different, a common thread binds them all; that of adaptability. It is this very ability to roll with the punches that has let them emerge triumphant from a tumultuous year, and that has let them truly embody the adage “pressure makes diamonds”. In this two-part series, they reflect on the current state of affairs, and share their thoughts for the future.

Read more: Shining Through: Singapore’s Top Jewellers Share Their Proudest Achievements of 2021

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Caratell

On the learnings that come with uncertainty: “From the many things we’ve learnt during this time, resilience, teamwork, finding new perspectives and the struggle to stay creative through constant changes were some of our biggest learnings. It’s been nothing like SARS, which wrapped up in half a year. Covid-19 will be with us for a while, and we have to adjust our lifestyles and learn a whole new way of managing the business.”

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Above Duo of Eminence transformable earrings

On preparing for the unexpected: “Acting fast has been the way businesses are finding success in this new paradigm. With that philosophy in mind, we row steadily and swiftly against the current. This has been made possible due to the dedication, receptiveness and teamwork shown by our people. Though digital marketing won’t be the only way to outlast the pandemic, we are learning to rewrite the rulebook and embrace the changes to pave the way.”

 

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On the benefits of producing locally: “Fortunately, there’s been a surge of sincere and serious consumers who are looking for local bespoke services and wish to support local designers. They are eager to be involved in the production process—from ideation to creation. Customers feel more comfortable working with a local production line as it reduces the risk of loss or damage by unknown third parties.”

On their proudest achievement: “Launching our Colours of Heritage collection to pay tribute to our local culture, and embracing multi-racialism and transculturation. We have also derived two new patented business ideas, Gem DNA and Ideal Clasp. The latter solves a pain point many older customers might face, and shows that our age should not restrict us in any way from wearing beautiful jewellery.”

— Michael Koh, founder of Caratell

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Arte Oro

On making forward-thinking decisions: “Towards the end of 2019, we underwent a major restructuring to prepare the business for the new normal that was on the horizon. To that end, we doubled our team size, developed a new website and moved to a new office. We centred the company’s development around what we do best—providing high quality gem acquisition and advisory services to our clients, and creating beautiful bespoke jewellery. After each meeting, our team of experts around the world will source and select the best choices for their needs.”

On showcasing their talents: “We have always been making most of our jewellery pieces in Singapore, but this aspect of the business wasn’t emphasised in the past. With the advice of dear client-friends, we decided to showcase our craft and past commissions. This developed into Arte Oro 2.0—an elegant yet homely space where people visited to be in good company.”

On their proudest achievement: “Growing our business in Saudi Arabia, and the increase in VVIP clients from Singapore and around Asia. We’re also proud to produce even more of our pieceslocally, with their quality matching those of our complicated pieces produced in Italy. With this shift, clients are able to see first-hand the progress of their pieces.” 

— Danilo Giannoni, founder of Arte Oro

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Madly

On looking on the bright side: “The pandemic has given many of us the time and space to pause and reflect. This means that clients are approaching their jewellery purchases more deliberately and purposefully. They’re looking for rare investment-worthy coloured gemstones that they’d like to pass on to their loved ones, or choosing to commission a meaningful bespoke piece that tells their unique story. Our team of jewellery designers has been well-equipped to decode our clients’ styles and bring the jewels they’ve dreamt of to life.

Read more: This is How Local Jeweller Madly Acquires Some of the Best Gemstones Available

On shifting future plans: “We were planning to open a second retail outlet, but instead switched gears and expanded our upstream capabilities, which led us to discover our Mahenge spinel, which weighs over 18 carats. I think there’s no value in ruminating on the ‘what ifs’ or the roads not taken. We just have to ride the wave and appreciate the sunshine, and that’s how we’ve approached the year. Besides, opening a second outlet in 2022 has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

On their proudest achievement: “We’ve recruited some of the industry’s very best to better serve our clients, and nearly doubled in team size. It has always been a dream to make Madly the ‘Disneyland’ of jewellery brands, and nothing makes me prouder than knowing that I have a dedicated team that’s invested in making that dream come true.”

— Maddy Barber, founder of Madly

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Les Precieux

On making the best of the year: “The past year’s restrictions have necessitated an accelerated transition for us as we moved into the digital realm. Along the way, we’ve worked to better position the brand, and focused on the positives, however hopeless the situation has seemed.”

On what it takes to stay in business: “There’s more to outlasting the pandemic than just managing business costs. Our ability to be flexible and innovative has put us in good stead relative to our peers in the industry. Of course, it’s imperative to operate efficiently when it comes to finances, but we also credit the way our team has worked to focus on the good while minimising the bad.”

On their proudest achievement: “It’s still the joy of being a part of our clients’ engagements and celebrations. This remains our proudest achievement as a brand.”

— Janice Lee, co-founder and sales director of Les Precieux

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