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The Singaporean Fine Jewellery Brand Breathing New Life to Abandoned Heirlooms

By Marisa Xin / interview by Lynette Kee

Photographed by Katherine Ang, styled by Michelle Kok

Amidst the current climate as Singapore adjusts to the new normal, it’s surreal to look back on its drastic comparison just mere months ago. Where the typical luxury jewellery purchase relies on the in-store experience to indulge one in an opulent affair, physical retail spaces had closed as a preventative safety measure against the pandemic. It was during the two-month stay-at-home order, that the fine jewellery brand Luxequisite launched — a store that is exclusively online — at a time where conventional retail experienced an indefinite pause. 

“There‘s so much more you can tell about a person or what the customer wants,” says Lydia Lim, the founder of the luxury jewellery brand. “And that’s what we want to do — we want to customise our services to each and every one of them.”

With the emergence of online secondhand clothing platforms, the modern consumer (in particular the millennials and Gen Z) has become more conscious and supportive of sustainable practices in fashion. However, the same conversation in regards to jewellery leaves a lot to be desired. In traditional means of jewellery production, precious raw materials are only found in nature and are therefore inevitably mined from the earth. Its complicated production line with many points of contact also make traceability difficult in ensuring these materials are sourced ethically. In the end, unsold dead stocks are melted down and redesigned, altogether wasting production and running costs. As these troubling factors stack against each other, it forces the consumer to reevaluate the hidden cost of a sparkling diamond. 

Enter Luxequisite, a local fine jewellery platform that aims to create environmentally-conscious jewellery while keeping it comparatively affordable — atypical for the archetype associated with luxury brands. Using its website as its first touchpoint of a customer’s experience, the brand’s digital approach caters to its millennial and Gen Z audience, opening up a new market of fine jewellery that was previously limited to mature clientele. Beyond its stone-studded accessories, the brand adopts a unique stance on customer service — acting as a service platform for the lesser-known, sombre aspects of its industry, such as liquidation and resale.

Photographed by Katherine Ang, styled by Michelle Kok

Straightforward in speech and demeanour, the 32-year-old is just as earnest in the operation of her brand, aiming to provide a transparent and painless process not just for the prospective buyer but the local jewellers she works with. At Luxequisite, Lim takes in dead stock from local jewellers, as well as individual’s unwanted bijouterie, curates, and instills these pieces with new life by redesigning them as new merchandise — acting very much as a jewellery brokerage.

The brand slogan, “With You for the Good Times and the Bad,” fully encompasses its involvement in an individual’s life. Apart from jewellery as a symbol of celebration and commemoration, its darker counterpart in death, separation and divorce brings a whole new meaning on a piece of an heirloom or jewellery’s significance. Although not explicitly stated on its webpage, Lim prefers to let its services speak for itself. She recognises such complications and has decided to remedy it, helping them liquidate it, instead of keeping a grating reminder of their past.

The solution came naturally to Lim, who first noticed her peers who were stuck with a ring after failed proposals or marriages but with no viable option to sell it. On the other end of the spectrum, others were getting engaged and would come to her for advice on ring choices and its accompanying prices. “Knowledge about diamonds and precious stones are usually exclusively available to the wealthy,” Lim commented, “and I wanted to make this information available to the middle market.”

Lim saw this as an opportunity to assist them as a middle-man — by redesigning and reselling these pieces, the owners’ anonymity would not be disclosed while recovering their losses. Existing outlets to resell jewellery like auction houses, carry hefty advance payments with no guarantee the item will be sold.

As Lim lets in on her thoughts, her knowledge and passion for jewellery and its surrounding market is evident. In rapid-fire speech and excitable expression, the graduate gemologist shares that, even having been certified by the Gemologist Institute of America, her position is still considered unorthodox — as she does not come from the traditional background of family jewellers. Despite her eagerness to share her wealth of information, from determining a gemstone’s quality to contemplating jewellery as investments, some difficulties she faces in her pursuit to redefine the fine jewellery market are the looming doubts from traditional jewellers. 

Photographed by Katherine Ang, styled by Michelle Kok

With her eye trained on the shifting landscape of luxury jewellery, various aspects such as consumer behaviour and social media all play a part in the way Lim tweaks her brand operations to reflect their needs. Noticing that majority of its clientele shops online and a lot later at night, Luxequisite offers a customer hotline on Whatsapp, from 11am to 9pm on weekdays, and until midnight on weekends. “It’s an online-to-offline platform, so the customer does have the option to look at the product in-person,” Lim acknowledges the intangible physical experience of shopping for luxury goods. “It’s a lot faster because you get to schedule it in right away, and with our Whatsapp hotline, people can get their questions answered almost immediately.” Another added convenience is that the virtual channel allows a comfortable distance for both parties to ask questions that might otherwise appear invasive or embarrassing. The result — efficient consultations done within the comfort of one’s home.

Its digital method also forgoes unnecessary time spent on window shopping, which Lim likens to the process of shopper decision-making in buying a car, “Enthusiasts will always scout for options online and narrow down those within their price range before going for a test drive.” 

While its business model can come across as varied, its mainstay is its focus on the customer. “I don’t have a plan,” Lim confesses, when asked about the future of her brand. Putting customers at the centre sometimes meant that her profits are at a minimum, but she doesn’t mind. With the information she wishes to share, the website could very well become akin to a forum for people to learn more about gemology. “[The business] can pivot, but that’s the beauty of it. We’ll just have to see where the world takes us.”