B.P. de Silva Jewellers has the distinction of being one of Singapore’s first luxury labels, with a rich heritage that dates back to the 19th century. Founded by Balage Porolis de Silva, a Sri Lankan immigrant, the brand dazzled with its gemstones and jewelry, catching the attention of nobility and the upper class, with a who’s who of clients that include the son of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Connaught, King George the fifth, King Rama V of Siam, the royal prince and princesses of Cambodia, the Sultan of Johore, as well as admirals of the United States Navy, colonial politicians, and tycoons.
Ms. Shanya Amarasuriya
Currently, B.P. de Silva has gone beyond jewellery, with businesses and subsidiaries in timepieces, investments, production and logistics, tea, and even beauty. However, it’s only natural that B.P. de Silva Jewellers remains the glittering jewel in the crown.
Today, fifth generation jeweller, Ms. Shanya Amarasuriya is at the heart of the jewellery brand as Creative Director. Armed with a diploma in business studies, a degree in Gemology and Fine Jewellery Design from the Fashion Institue of Technology in New York, and an inherent love and keen eye for gems, she is perhaps the key to bringing B.P. de Silva Jewellers into the future.
The 28-year-old reveals, “In my early twenties, my father, Mr. Sunil Amarasuriya, who is the Chairman of the Group, sat my brothers and I down and asked if any of us felt passionate about leading the fine jewelry side of our business. I’ve always been interested in the world of couturiers and I’d thought one day my career would be there. But after I spent years learning about our businesses, even interning in some of our subsidiaries, I discovered how I have an innate connection with gemstones and design.”
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- JOURNEY OF EVOLUTION
- BAPTISM OF FIRE
Journey of Evolution
As Creative Director, Ms. Amarasuriya’s role goes beyond designing jewelry. She currently has her hands full in ensuring that B.P. de Silva Jewellers becomes Singapore’s first B.Corp Certified Jeweller, which they have been working on since 2018. She explains that Certified B Corporations are businesses that balance purpose and profit. Once they have achieved that, they will be legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their staff, customers, suppliers, community, and ultimately, the environment.
“We have just submitted our proposal and we’re really encouraged by our journey towards being a more thoughtful, transparent, and human brand. It’s revolutionizing our supply chain a step at a time. While we’ve toiled over this for two years, it’s something we’re in for the long haul.”
Another goal that Ms. Amarasuriya is working towards is a line of traceable sapphires. “It’s not something that’s been done on scale, but sapphires are the hallmark of B.P. de Silva Jewellers, and creating a traceable source of them would not only honor our heritage with this exceptional gemstone, it would be for the good of the industry too. I imagine that if we, a humble brand from the little red dot, can do something like that, it will show the world that I can be done – and who knows what advances we’ll make from there to benefit the artisan mining communities across the globe? It’s something worthwhile and a project I hold very close to heart, even though I know it will take time.”
- JOURNEY OF EVOLUTION
- BAPTISM OF FIRE
Baptism of Fire
It may seem that Ms. Amarasuriya’s path to bringing the brand to a whole new level was going smoothly, but then the biggest roadblock – Covid-19 – appeared out of nowhere. “Honestly, it was daunting – and in many ways it still is, as it’s unprecedented. I don’t think any industry is spared because at the end of the day, we are all connected.”
Despite everything Covid-19 did to derail businesses, she remains positive. “This brand has been through a world war. It’s been through the Depression, it’s been through the most unpredictable of times! This is the storm our generation has to weather, and I’m incredibly grateful for the clients who continue to support us, and even refer us to their loved ones too. Their faith has been a true pillar of strength for the team.”
Before Covid-19 was classified as a pandemic, B.P. de Silva Jewellers already began to ramp up on its sanitation efforts and the team wore masks as a precaution. “But then the number of infections started to rise and as we’re categorized as a ‘non-essential’ business, being under the Circuit Breaker meant we had to close our atelier doors and halt production. This affected timelines for us and for clients who have commissioned bespoke pieces,” recalls Ms. Amarasuriya.
Thankfully, the brand has been building up its digital presence and capabilities since the beginning of the year. “When Covid-19 happened, it became exceptionally clear to us that the best way we can remain connected with our clients is through digital platforms. During the Circuit Breaker, out team focused on bringing the Virtual Concierge service to life. The connection with our clients is so important. As we continue to improve our digital frameworks, we’re able to connect with a wider audience too. We’ve only launched recently, but we’ve received appointment requests already.”
Moving forward, B.P. de Silva Jewellers’ Virtual Concierge will be an important part of the brand’s portfolio of services to serve both local and overseas clients. “We’ll be refining the service along the way, valuing feedback, and making improvements,” shares Ms. Amarasuriya. “It’s not a short-term answer; it’s a service we’re offering to bring value for our clients, and if it proves to be helpful for them, it’s something we’re considering to offer in the next couple of months even if our atelier is open.”
Just like most businesses, B.P. de Silva Jewellers had a full schedule for 2020, but a lot of launches and activities had to be put on hold or revised. “We’ve had to pivot a lot, but not without reward,” says Ms. Amarasuriya. “I’m really proud of the team because they’ve taken this challenge in graciously and we all have learned a lot from this season and we’ll be putting our lessons to good use when things go back to normal – even if it’s the ‘new normal’. We’re all really excited to get back to speed.”