What kind of engagement ring would one procure to propose to the fifth-generation scion of a luxury jewellery company? That was the challenge for 29-year-old Shanya Amarasuriya’s fiance, she says with a laugh. Needless to say, the creative director of Singapore-based BP de Silva Jewellers dropped many hints.
By the time he made a secret appointment with her father, Sunil, to ask for her hand in marriage and to engage the company’s artisans to create a bespoke ring, he had a good idea of her preferences.
“I told him I like Art Deco-style jewellery and baguette-cut diamonds,” she says in a video interview, bringing her hand closer to offer a look at her geometrically shaped bling featuring one large diamond surrounded by many smaller ones. “I didn’t want anything too ostentatious and it had to symbolically represent the woman I want to be.”
Her affinity for this movement was cultivated during her two years in the Big Apple, famed for its iconic Art Deco architecture. The Chrysler Building is a classic example. Art Deco is visually beautiful, feminine and timeless, she says. Her favourite piece from BP de Silva’s latest collection, the Jazz Age Icon Convertible Earrings, pays homage to the movement.
The era’s message of empowerment also resonates with her. “I feel like I matured,” says Amarasuriya, who was there to obtain a degree in jewellery design at the Fashion Institute of Technology New York. “I found parallels to my personal growth with this movement, which happened during a time when women were more vocal and expressive – something which also speaks to the women I serve.”
Upon her return to Singapore in 2017, she joined the 148-year-old brand, which is known for its bespoke pieces as well as engagement rings and bridal jewellery. Founded in 1872, BP de Silva Jewellers’ history stretches back to the time when Singapore was a British colony, and was a company Lee Chin Koon (the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s father) worked at.
Amarasuriya previously worked in several subsidiaries under the BP de Silva Group, whose holdings include The 1872 Clipper Tea Co and a stake in Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet. It took her two years at BP de Silva Jewellers to build her team, learn the ropes of the business and get to know its clientele before she assumed her current role.
Now, she has big plans for her tenure as the steward of the brand. “As I do my work and am exposed to the entire supply chain, a revelation came to me. Jewellery can be my platform in causing change, in creating the world we want to see.”
To imbue the brand with an ecologically and socially conscious ethos, she spearheaded an initiative to use Fairmined Impact Gold, a type of precious metal artisanally mined in Peru, which channels funds towards financing socioeconomic development projects for the mining community. BP de Silva’s first collection crafted with this gold is slated to be launched this year.
While she anticipates that the Covid-19 circuit breaker measures may cause a slowdown, she does not intend to let the downtime go to waste. Instead, she is executing a branding exercise to “pivot from a business to a brand” – something she expects to unveil in time for its 150th anniversary in 2022.
In the meantime, she aims to continue sparking joy through her creations. She recalls meeting a woman who claimed not to be a “jewellery person” but became a repeat customer.
Amarasuriya says, “She told me that most jewellery is designed for people to show them off, but she felt my pieces were designed for her to enjoy.
“Of course, we have some showstoppers but what I want is to bring to every customer a representation of who they are.”