It’s hard to visit a shopping mall in Singapore without spotting a glittering window or two belonging to either an Aspial, Lee Hwa, Goldheart or CITIGEMS jewellery boutique, four of the main brands belonging to the Aspial Corporation (SGX: A30). The company is a contemporary fashion jeweller based in Singapore and is the only listed jeweller on the Singapore Exchange. Aspial started life in 1970, as Lee Hwa Goldsmiths & Jewellers Pte Ltd on Circuit Road. The family-run business was an old-fashioned goldsmith, making its own jewellery and ornaments. Business proved to be good and a second outlet was…
It’s hard to visit a shopping mall in Singapore without spotting a glittering window or two belonging to either an Aspial, Lee Hwa, Goldheart or CITIGEMS jewellery boutique, four of the main brands belonging to the Aspial Corporation (SGX: A30).
The company is a contemporary fashion jeweller based in Singapore and is the only listed jeweller on the Singapore Exchange.
Aspial started life in 1970, as Lee Hwa Goldsmiths & Jewellers Pte Ltd on Circuit Road. The family-run business was an old-fashioned goldsmith, making its own jewellery and ornaments.
Business proved to be good and a second outlet was opened in Bukit Batok in 1988, followed by a manufacturing division in the Citimac Industrial Complex in 1989. By 1993, Lee Hwa had six stores and had opened its first retail boutique in Bishan’s Junction 8 Shopping Mall.
In 1994, the couple’s son Mr Koh Wee Seng took the helm, bringing in his own management team with new ideas to modernise the company. Although the firm had always concentrated on yellow gold for its pieces, Koh Wee Seng ventured into white gold, believing this to be more contemporary, in a bid to appeal to “fashion savvy, confident women leading a cosmopolitan lifestyle”.
By 1996, Lee Hwa had opened its first city store in the Wisma Atria Mall on Singapore’s premier shopping district Orchard Road – which was unique as it was the first jewellery store which didn’t sell 22 carat (916) gold.
The company decided to branch out and in 1999, started its property business World Class Land developing residential apartments and commercial properties.
CITIGEMS and Goldheart
By 2001, the company had changed its name to the Aspial Corporation Limited and in 2002, created CITIGEMS in conjunction with the Belgian company AMC Diamonds. Aspial went on to acquire Singapore’s second-largest jewellery retailer, Goldheart, in 2005.
Aspial Corporation also ventured into pawn brokerage services and by 2012, owned 28 Maxi-CASH Pawnshops.
But did you know…
- Lee Hwa was the first jeweller to introduce white gold to the Singapore market in 1996.
- Koh Wee Seng currently features at position 40 on Forbes’ Singapore’s 50 Richest list.
- The company introduced the world’s first 19k solid Purple Gold in 2000, having perfected a technique to make it malleable enough to shape into jewellery.
- Aspial recently announced it is to build the tallest tower in Melbourne, Australia. At 388m the residential and commercial tower is estimated to cost S$48m to build, and when completed is expected to make the topmost floor accessible to the public.
- Koh Wee Seng’s brother is Singapore property developer James Koh Wee Meng (aka The Geylang King) famous for owning the Fragrance chain of budget hotels. His first hotels were named Ruby, Crystal, Pearl and Sapphire, in a nod to his family’s jewellery business.
Today, the Aspial Corporation continues to manufacture, retail, wholesale and export fine contemporary jewellery throughout Singapore and South East Asia.
The company currently owns 70 boutiques including its flagship brand Aspial, as well as Lee Hwa, Goldheart and CITIGEMS, selling jewellery aimed at the younger, more fashion conscious market.
The company has increased its brand awareness through participation in local fashion festivals, as well as showcasing pieces to an international audience at events such as London Fashion Week.
World Class Land continues to develop properties and has completed 30 small to medium sized residential projects, including Singapore’s first “Retirement Resort” a condominium with extras aimed at retirees who wish to maintain an “active and independent lifestyle”. Aspial also owns 34 Maxi-CASH Pawnshops throughout Singapore.
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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Alison Hunt doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.