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A Work Week With Johnny Lam, Founder of ByCanary

How do dazzling diamonds and work go together? We find out below.



As a retailer, both digitally at ByCanary and at our sister company’s boutique, Canary Diamond Co located at Delfi Orchard, our busiest days are usually on Saturdays and that is why I usually start my work week on Tuesday. I start the week off with a zoom call with our collaborators. We have an upcoming collaborator, Laura Apricio, whose collection we will be kicking off early next year. I met Laura at her fashion show which she held in collaboration with the Columbian embassy in 2019. She resonated with ByCanary’s belief in collective humanity, sustainable and responsible business practices, and our commitment to creating a better future through jewellery. This kickstarted our collaboration and rest was history.

In this Zoom session, we went over the artistic direction of her collection. Inspired greatly by pre-Columbian indigenous artworks, from Macrame, an indigenous weaving technique, to geometric patterns, Laura’s collection is looking to transport her clients to a small Colombian village. Combined with our vision to bring new life to pre-loved recycled precious metals and gems, we are extremely excited to be working for her and to see our collective vision brought to life. We also discuss and explore the various ways we could give back to our communities, like with our current collection launched in collaboration with Malaysian entrepreneur, Yiulin, where 10% of her collection is donated to a charity for children called “Dignity For Children”.


This morning was packed with client meetings at our Canary Diamond Co. boutique, the parent company of ByCanary. Following this, I head up to the ByCanary office for a photoshoot. At ByCanary, we pride ourselves in producing all our content in-house, from photography to videography, and all marketing content. We have a full studio in our office that allows us to quickly produce new and engaging content in the ever so demanding world of social media. 

For the photoshoot, I am tasked with taking the images we need for the social media campaign. This is actually the easiest part. I am glad that I have a wonderful team to plan the campaign and prepare the props. Getting those perfect shots is not easy and the day quickly flies by when we are focused on our task at hand. It takes us the rest of the day to churn out content that best represents ByCanary’s beliefs and vision.


process to have the photos ready. Each photoshoot produces about 2 weeks worth of content. I then met my very good friend, Jonathan Kwan, for a lunch catch-up over some dim sum. He is a Director at a local luxury goods brand. Being part of luxury retail, we discuss the current market situation, offering each other support and advice. With the global pandemic, life as we know might not go back to normal anytime soon. Tourism was brought to a standstill and we as retailers are forced to be totally reliant on our domestic economy. Innovation in our business has become absolutely essential and is no longer a “good to have” option anymore. 

At ByCanary, we have looked to digitalisation to service our customers better. To serve our customers local and foreign, we’ve also taken to video consultations over Zoom and are constantly working to expand on the extent of customisation and translate our in-store service levels virtually via our platform. The pandemic has certainly catalysed the way retailers integrate technology into their business models. There is no looking back, to best seize every opportunity from this global crisis, we have to embrace the cards we’ve been dealt with and to remain forward looking. 


Following the meeting with Laura on Tuesday, it's time to put those ideas and vision into action. Laura has generated a mood board as per her artistic vision and I try to come up with pieces that are true to the stories and culture that was the inspiration for our collaboration. It is crucial that the jewellery designs fuse both her ideas and our jewellery-making experience. I usually take a more minimalistic approach as my first step in this process, where I take an idea or initial design and subtract it to its most simplest form. Once I have a rough direction of the type of pieces I want to create, I begin the initial drafting process in 3D. My experience in jewellery manufacturing and knowledge of design disciplines help me with this process. I like to consider the different aspects of the collection, including the manufacturing process, price points, material suitability, demographics of target audience and sustainability of production processes and materials used. Once I am satisfied with the rough form of the jewellery pieces, I will then render several variations of the pieces to show the different possibilities of the collection. Sharing this with Laura, I emphasize that these are just hardware definitions and welcome her input for adding her own personal style to the jewellery, including colours, patterns as well as other style elements. 

As part of the process, I will also head down my factory to have a meeting with my head of manufacturing to discuss the collection, anticipating potential problems and solutions that might come up during the manufacturing process.


Saturdays are usually the busiest days for me as on top of everything else, I am also involved in serving our customers. At Canary Diamond Co, being part of our customers' special moments has made our business deeply personal as enduring and long-lasting relationships are forged. A tradition that we pride ourselves in is establishing strong personal relationships and trust over the years, turning customers to our friends. We invest time and heart in the work that we do, chatting with customers to know their stories and to best find jewellery that will remain meaningful and grow with them. Offering ultra-fine jewellery including rare diamonds such as blue, green and pink diamonds to one of a kind gemstones such as Sapphires from Kashmir, Rubies from Burma and Emeralds from Columbia, we look to finding the perfect piece for our customers. We always try to offer unique items that you will not find anywhere in the world, much less in Singapore, bringing pieces from the finest mines around the world to our clients. That is what sets us apart and keeps us in business in this ultra-competitive space.