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Thursday January 10, 2013

TSL's glittering gem showcase

Gem of thrones: TSL’s 100-facet diamonds shine
exquisitely in this gorgeous ‘Meteor’ crown. Gem of thrones: TSL’s 100-facet diamonds shine exquisitely in this gorgeous ‘Meteor’ crown.

ASIAN jewellery brand TSL Jewellery hit a milestone when it showed its first collection at New York Fashion Week last September, through a collaboration with renowned designer Vivienne Tam. The Hong-Kong based jeweller showcased a 17-piece collection with Tam’s Spring 2013 line which drew inspiration from the five elements in Chinese cosmology – metal, wood, water, fire and earth.

The pieces were very modern, making use of geometric lines and patterns to represent the elements. Each element had its own distinct shape, colour and texture: for example, the “metal” series comprised circular pieces made primarily in gold; pieces in the “wood” series used both gold and jade with wooden components boldly infused into them while the “water” series were nicely curved like the shape of waves and crafted in white gold.

These bold, statement pieces are a step away from what TSL has been known for in its 50 years in the business: handcrafted diamond jewellery.

This, says TSL’s chief operating officer Lambert Chan, is in keeping with the brand’s new positioning efforts.

“From the beginning of 2011, we created a unique brand positioning – trendsetting craftsmanship – to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market. This collaboration, which we are very proud of, is one of our brand initiatives to strengthen our position in the international market. We are also looking at different designer collaborations in the future,” says Chan, who is based in the brand’s head office in Hong Kong.

TSL’s diamond
encrusted
Snoopy which
made it into
the Guinness
Book of World
Records. TSL’s diamond encrusted Snoopy which made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

TSL Jewellery was founded by Hong Kong artisan Tse Sui Luen in 1971 and has since grown to become one of the leading jewellery brands in Asia with 200-odd stores, primarily in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia. Currently helmed by Tse’s son Tommy and his wife Annie, the brand is still very much a family-run business. Its outlook, however, is very much global.

“Tommy is now the brand owner. He grew up with his father’s heritage of design and craftsmanship and therefore, he has a very strong passion for that. However, having been educated in the United States, he has a strong desire to bring the brand forward so that TSL does not remain a local brand,” Chan discloses.

One of the hallmarks of the brand is delivering “trendsetting craftsmanship” in their products. This is evident in Estrella, the 100-facet diamond with nine hearts and a blossom.

“We started a few years ago to create our own diamond. We worked with Rosy Blue (one of the world’s largest diamond manufacturers) to create this 100-facet diamond which I can only describe as exquisite. It took three years to develop. Typically, a diamond has 58 facets. The more cuts the diamond has, the more brilliant it will be. But, the cuts have to be precise and symmetrical. Ours has 100 facets with a design of nine hearts and a blossom flower cut in the centre. Even after setting, you can see the entire design. Honestly, it is fascinating!” says Chan of the diamond which has received an “excellent” certification from both GemEx and the International Gemological Institute.

The 100-facet diamond – with 37 cuts on the crown and 63 more on the pavilion of the diamond – has become the brand’s flagship product.

The Estrella, along with some of the more iconic pieces from TSL’s 50-year history were recently on display at the Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur. The brand’s founder, Tse, his son Tommy (currently the chief merchandising officer) and daughter-in-law Annie (the chairman and chief executive officer) were also in KL to mark the brand’s 17-year presence in Malaysia.

Among the pieces on display were several handcrafted pieces by Tse from the 1970s – of particular note was a gold-crafted unicorn and an antique Mercedes Benz (Tse’s favourite car) as well as a diamond- encrusted figurine of the cartoon character Snoopy!

“TSL created the ‘ever-shinning star’ which is a diamond-encrusted figurine of Snoopy (worth about RM1.6bil). It made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive Snoopy memorabilia. It is an extraordinary masterpiece and a lot of hard work went into it, from its moulding, gems selection, diamond setting right to the final assembly of the figurine. Every precious stone on the Snoopy figurine is of similar colour, clarity, cut and carat to ensure a precise image. The whole production process took about eight months to achieve but it was worth it,” says Chan.

The character of Snoopy, he reveals, is a favourite of both Tommy and Annie and was also the theme of their wedding many years ago. The couple acquired the authorisation to use Snoopy motifs in their wedding decorations and for their wedding invitations and gifts!

Showpieces aside, TSL is also well-known for their wedding collection. Although it is not the main revenue earner for the company, it is a crucial part of the business.

Says Chan, “We realised that for most women, the first time they come in contact with a diamond is when they are shopping for their wedding or engagement. We see ourselves as their “wedding experts” when it comes to choosing the right diamond.

“We know that if we help them make the right choice and introduce them to the right stone, they will stay with us and we can forge a relationship with them over many years. Many of the people we met while in KL have been with us for 17 years!”

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