In the most unlikely place- a row of shabby kades on the turn off just before the Rowing Club, is the most magical little shop. Hewage’s Jewellers is the sort of shop you find in novels; a dark and slightly dusty treasure trove filled in this case quite literally with treasure. Ancient chests, cabinets, and cupboards crammed with gem-studded Kandyan hairpins, intricately worked bracelets, and heavy, opulent silver chains.
The selection is actually vast but the majority of the pieces are antique silver and filigree. If the wonderfully attentive staff (Mr Hewage and his assistant) dig through the various cases for long enough though they’ll uncover sapphires, amethysts, rubies and some exquisite gold pieces. While the shop is a little time capsule of old world beauty and the hand crafted pieces are unique and really quite exquisite their prices are incredibly reasonable. You can pick up antique silver bracelets and rings for Rs 3000-5000 though of course you could also blow Rs. 75,000 on a eye-popping 100 year old sapphire hairpin. If you ask, there's also (at least for now) an amazing Rs. 350,000 diamond bangle with rough-hewn diamonds in every nook and cranny. It's so imperfect and honest and true.
This shop in old skool in the very best sense. It was originally in Chatham Street, a much more appropriate location for its lovely old things but Fort’s wartime shutdown forced them out to their less than salubrious present surroundings. The service is warm and personal, they know you by name and they’ve survived because a small group of loyal customers just keeps going back. In addition to selling beautiful antique pieces they’re also excellent craftsmen who retain the skills of traditional silver smiths and can polish and repair pieces of jewellery with consummate skill.
The Tale Of The Rat
Fifteen years ago my Singaporean girlfriend picked up a dangling rat shaped pendant from a market in Bangkok - just a piece of kitsch but over the year’s she’s grown attached to it. Last month however her adopted mongrel dog managed to mangle it - tearing off an arm and a leg. She was distraught a legless, armless rat isn’t good for much and her ultramodern country, for all its Malls and Metros, wasn’t much help. At the fancy design schools they wanted to remould the rat in plastic, the jewellery shops at the shiny malls couldn’t work outside of a few preset designs and the one shop that said they could handle the rat-repairs wanted $200 to fix what was originally a $10 pedant.
It was at this point I suggested Ms. Rat took a trip to Colombo.
Two weeks later, via a five day stay at Hewage’s magic workshop, she’s back in Singapore with a perfect new arm and leg, in silver, indistinguishable from the original- all for Rs 2,500.
So that's Sri Lanka 1, Singapore 0 on the rat-repair front and a massive win for Hewage’s who managed to make one young woman very, very happy.
I really cannot recommend this place enough- the work was great, it was affordable and they were incredibly professional calling the very moment it was done. For rat-repairs and much beyond – lovely gifts and even original pieces if you supply designs Hewage’s is hard to beat in Colombo... or Singapore.
There’s a level of honesty here that’s amazingly refreshing. If Hewage says it’s an antique you can be sure it is. In a country where antiques are often made fresh daily this commitment to the truth is worth its weight in gold.