Shopping for jewellery can be, if you’ll forgive the pun, multi-faceted. There’s lots to look out for: design that suits you, the delicate balance of 4C grading when it comes to white diamonds, a whole wide world of variety if you’re into coloured gemstones, and the fact of shopping within a budget. It’s always a good idea to look beyond the obvious and consider the possibilities that independent jewellers can offer. H.Sena, a Singaporean jeweller that has been around since 1919, is one such brand.
The brand is now in the third-generation hands of Medhanie Senanayake, and is located at Ngee Ann City. Not amid the hustle and bustle of the mall itself, mind you. Instead, H.Sena has set up a cosy atelier in one of the building’s office units where you can make an appointment to browse and view in privacy and comfort. One of the treasures that the brand has put out is an extensive Heritage Collection of vintage pieces from the 1950s to the ’70s. As in, actual vintage from those decades and not jewellery recently made to mimic the style.
These vintage jewellery from the Heritage Collection have never been worn, and the brand has meticulously cleaned and polished the pieces up so that the handcrafted workmanship continues to shine. What’s really great about many of these pieces—and the collection numbers over a thousand, with rings, necklaces and earrings available—is simply the genuine and authentic design sensibility of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, tidily put together in a collection that’s easy to browse and select from. There’s also a wide range of natural gemstones—perennials like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires are a given—like turquoises, garnets, tiger’s eye, lapis and aquamarines that may not be so easy to find in contemporary ready-to-wear collections.
It doesn’t hurt, too, that the prices on these are more accessible than brand new pieces you’d find today. According to Senanayake, one of the brand’s strengths is its dedication and commitment to only offering truly fine gemstones. The owner and director grew up trailing her father on gem buying trips, and has continued to build on those relationships. She’s also completed a gemmology course from the Gemological Institute of America, and a professed lover of coloured gemstones. Her eyes are trained, at the moment, on padparadscha sapphires, a rare variant that’s pink-orange hued. But those are perhaps better left for high jewellery, which the brand creates as well.
The Heritage collection, however, is chock full of quality gemstones that are perhaps proof that this commitment predates Senanayake’s own tenure. Centrepiece diamonds, for example, sit on average at an F grading for colour, and clarity grading of VS1 to VVS1. According to the brand, recreating pieces of similar quality from scratch today would cost three times or more due to the difference in prices of gold and gemstones since the 1950s. There’s a revival and taste for vintage in the air right now, and it’s safe to say the real deal’s a treat.