Like many multi-generational businesses, B.P. de Silva Jewellers has its fair share of defining tales that have been handed down over the years. The one that resonates most with current fifth-generation creative director Shanya Amarasuriya dates back to World War II, and was told to her by her father Sunil.
When the Japanese invaded Singapore, the company was run by a distant second-generation relative named Titus. As the business was threatened with collapse, he daringly hid the jewellery beneath a tree and protected it from the invaders throughout the war.
“Just imagine the kind of environment he was in, and that he had the integrity to return it so the business could survive and go on to take care of more people,” she muses.
150 years old
It is not surprising that she holds this story close to her heart. As the brand celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, the stewardship and responsibility of the family’s legacy she has assumed is not something she takes lightly.
“My vision for B.P. de Silva is to be a thoughtful, luxurious design house,” she says. “I am fortunate my father has given me a lot of autonomy in thinking about what this chapter means for us, and how we can honour the past while staying relevant.”
To mark this milestone year, the brand is launching its first-ever flagship store in Singapore as well as a high-jewellery collection, another first.
“Since joining the business, I have been very inclined to design everyday luxury pieces as I love the versatility of making something you can wear regularly. With high jewellery, we are looking at statement, haute couture pieces— something commemorative and an homage to a grand occasion,” she elaborates. Previously, the brand only designed bespoke high jewellery for private clients.
Five gen, five gems
In honour of the business’ five generations, the collection will feature five different gemstones, with the blue sapphire representing Amarsuriya’s millennial generation.
“It is a classic gemstone, but the design is a testament to the type of aesthetic we are developing, and it is very much related to the Art Deco era,” she explains.
The flagship boutique, slated to launch in June, is located at Dempsey Road, in a space that used to house furniture brand Timothy Oulton.
Interestingly, Amarasuriya was drawn to this particular unit — “a place bathed in natural light” — and used to peer in, dreaming that it would be the perfect place to establish a boutique for the brand.
Calling it a “manifestation”, she has spent the last few months creating its design, envisioning it as a home for clients to relax in. “We have a private courtyard and a little open larder, so it feels like you’re entering a cosy, luxurious home. I want people to come to Dempsey and just enjoy the plants and inviting atmosphere,” she says.
The new Pocketful of Gems fine jewellery collection draws parallels with founder Balage Porolis de Silva, who sailed around the world from Sri Lanka with a pocketful of gems. “He decided to make a home in Singapore and start his business here with his curation of natural gemstones. That, to me, is the story of our origin,” she says.
With a selection of 12 jewels, including Ceylon sapphires, fancy yellow diamonds and morganites, clients can create a one-of-a-kind necklace by choosing their favourite gem to be set in an Art Deco-styled geometric 18K gold pendant frame.
“Sri Lanka is still one of the most gem-diverse countries in the world. As our clients become more interested in coloured gemstones, I want to help them begin a little collector’s journey, as well as create a connection to our heritage.”
As for keen-eyed jewellery connoisseurs who want something that pushes boundaries, they would do well to take a closer look at the pieces Amarasuriya wears.
The creative director points out that there have been a few enquiries about the custom double-banded wedding ring she created, adding, “I go to the limits of my imagination and to see how clients respond to my creations.”