SINGAPORE - Arthesdam jewellery owner Angela Lam prices her gold jewellery lower than many of her competitors, but that often results in unkind remarks such as “lower price means lower quality”.
Ms Lam tries to silence such criticism by sending every gold item to an independent scientific test centre for authentication – a step many goldsmiths both here and abroad don’t do.
This means that all pure gold items sold by her three outlets in Serangoon Road are truly of 99.99 per cent grade, while all her 916 jewellery is certified to meet the minimum benchmark of 91.6 per cent gold content. The proof of the gold standard comes in the form of a lion’s head hallmark from the Singapore Assay Office (SAO) that is inscribed on every piece.
“I am very particular in ensuring that everything we sell meets the gold standard, that even small ornaments that are less than one gram gets a hallmark,” Ms Lam says, adding that the less than $3 fee to mark each jewellery is a small price to pay to gain customers’ trust and long-term patronage.
Although Arthesdam – derived from the Tamil word “lucky” – was started by her father in 2000, Ms Lam is the third-generation jeweller of the family because her grandfather was a veteran in the pawnshop industry.
“Trust and customer relationship are very important in our trade. So having the SAO hallmark has proved to be very successful for us because we also get many online purchases from overseas customers,” she says.
Indeed, the faith that foreign buyers have in the Singapore hallmarked gold jewellery has also led her company to sign wholesale deals with retailers in more than 20 countries, including Switzerland, Germany, France, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
Now that more tourists are back in Singapore, Ms Lam says Arthesdam has been enjoying brisk business.
“As the Singapore dollar is quite strong, we deliberately lower our gold price so that the sales volume will go up. As our hallmark is proof that everything is as real as it gets, customers are assured that they are getting a good bargain,” she says.
Another brand-name goldsmith, On Cheong, believes in guaranteeing the quality of its gold jewellery, a “commitment” to its customers that it has undertaken since the company started as a traditional goldsmith shop in 1936.
Managing director Ho Nai Chuen says it will continue to work with SAO to hallmark all its gold jewellery to provide consumers “with added confidence” when choosing items.
After all, gold means more than just a product; the company’s name, which is derived from a popular Chinese phrase for peace and prosperity, is in gold colour as well.
“The hallmarking fee is regarded as an investment rather than a cost element,” says Mr Ho.
The goldsmith, which has two outlets in prominent locations in New Bridge and South Bridge roads, enjoys brisk businesses from regular customers as well as tourists who often regard Chinatown as the place to shop for gold jewellery. The 86-year-old business also offers a huge collection of traditional, designer and even custom-made pieces at its online store.
“Hallmarking is useful in attracting online purchase,” notes Mr Ho. “It is more so for international visitors, whether they are patronising On Cheong’s physical outlets or purchasing through online platforms.”