One of Diamond Ateliers' most complex bespoke designs was an 18k white gold "Hidden" halo pavé band (top right). A pavé setting refers to how the band of the ring is lined with many small diamonds. | Photos: instagram/@DiamondAteliers.sg
Attention, lovebirds! Picture this scenario: You're young, in love and ready to take your relationship to the next level. You secretly drop by the big-brand jewellers that you know of (or heard about from your parents) to purchase an engagement ring for your grand proposal.
The service is good, the designs may not be what you had in mind but are exquisite nonetheless. But then you see the price tag and the blood drains from your face. "Wait, how much?"
Don Siah, 27, knows that feeling all too well. After hearing all the gripes from his young, married friends about the market price of a simple proposal ring, he decided it was time for a change - and to be that change.
"Diamond Ateliers is a bespoke engagement ring business with a focus on diamonds, both lab and natural," says Don, who founded the e-business (leveraging on his father's jewellery business) in 2019.
"It is a millennial-owned business, made exclusively for millennials. Here, couples are able to obtain their desired rings with intricate details, all without breaking the bank."
We spoke to the 3rd-generation jeweller about wedding-ring shopping nowadays, offering Zoom appointments for clientele, and having one client who resides in the billionaire's playground, Monaco.
What motivated you to start the business?
I had a few friends that married young and when they told me the prices of their simple engagement ring (without customisation), I thought the prices were ridiculous to begin with and became extremely interested in how prices can be drastically reduced without reducing quality.
I also realised that customisation was only available at a sky-high cost that would deter 95% of the market.
As an ex-management consultant, I was familiar with business models and figured that the retail costs were simply too high in Singapore, resulting in the costs being passed on to consumers directly.
As my dad is a manufacturer as well as a top designer, I created an e-business which leverages on my dad’s business. I removed the retail front with a key difference from purely online businesses: I hold physical appointments.
Diamond Ateliers offers millennials the best of both worlds - significant price savings due to vertical integration and a personal, human touch that assists the curation from ideation to reality.
Why should couples consider bespoke rings over off-the rack pieces?
Engagement rings are the physical embodiments of the love between two people and diamonds represent the beauty, toughness and sparkle of the couple.
There is something unique about each one of us and our relationships. A bespoke ring offers the couple an unique opportunity to contemplate what makes them special and put thought into how to make it special for the moment they've been waiting for.
Off-the rack pieces lack that romance - you’ll skip the detailed considerations that make you appreciate your partner even more.
One of the coolest things is that you offer Zoom appointments for those who want to find out more about your bespoke rings - so different from last time! How else does wedding-ring shopping differ from how the generation before used to do it?
Millennials are truly the internet generation - we have gotten used to Uber, purchasing via Amazon and living with social media.
We are accustomed to understanding the concept of removing the middleman, and getting as close to the source as possible for price savings, whereas our parents would probably have had doubts as they belong to the see-it-to-believe-it generation.
As a tech-savvy generation, millennials are demanding much more than before from companies, and prices are all coming down. Millennials are happy to purchase diamond rings online knowing at the back of their minds that they have the weapon of leaving a bad review on social media.
Businesses have no choice but to ensure that their service and product is top notch.
What are some highlights you've experienced managing this endeavour?
Some of the greatest joys I've had running the business were the opportunities to do the rings of my closest friends, and without them, Diamond Ateliers would not be where it is today.
I have also done a "hidden halo" ring (above) which was complex to pull off as the halo could barely be seen from the top. This is definitely one for the archives.
And one of my greatest moments to date is having a client that resides in Monaco. His parents-in-law stayed in Singapore and they gave the approval for him to purchase from me after meeting me just once, despite him never actually meeting me before. It was an incredible experience.
What tips do you have for guys that want to surprise their girlfriends?
In selecting a ring design, focus on two things:
Proportions. The idea is to emphasise the size of the centre. So consider band width, number of prongs and whether you should have tapering.
It is also all in the details. What details can you add to make your ring unique without taking too much shine off the centre?