Annie Tse was drawn to studying a degree in computer engineering to prove she could meet the challenge of working in a male-dominant industry. She met that challenge, graduating to work as an IT engineer for powerful multinational companies, including Motorola and IBM.
However, it was a trip to church that lured her into a more feminine world. That was where she met Tommy, the son of Tse Sui Luen, the founder of Tse Sui Luen Jewellery International (TSL), one of Asia’s largest jewellers engaged in design, retailing, export and manufacturing.
Annie Tse brings change to Tse Sui Luen
It was a change of destiny that led her to become CEO of the company. “Tommy and I actually went to the same university in Boston, but met at a church event,” Annie recalls. “I knew I always wanted my own career and didn’t think about joining his family business. We also knew that working in the same company might affect our marriage. However, Tommy was working hard every day to run the company and tackle all the difficulties he encountered, while I was out helping others with their businesses. It didn’t feel right to me.”
Annie joined the company in 2002, embracing the challenge to learn about gems and jewellery from scratch. She spent a year studying how the diamond supply chain works before utilising her expertise to develop a new information technology system.
It’s not always easy to introduce something new to a company with over half a century of history.
“I am strong at analysis and logical thinking,” Annie says. “But it’s not always easy to introduce something new to a company with over half a century of history. I had to explain to my colleagues the reason behind the change in order to implement it. But our employees were extremely supportive and loyal to the company and helped make my changes a reality.”
Tse Sui Luen Jewellery International is dedicated to craftsmanship
One vital factor about the company that will never change is its dedication to craftsmanship. Tse Sui Luen was a goldsmith in Hong Kong when he founded the business in 1960, and when Annie and Tommy took control over a decade ago, his meticulous attention to the detail required to create exquisite jewellery was not lost.
“Craftsmanship is what we are good at and after we, the second generation, took control, we introduced our core positioning of ‘Trendsetting Craftsmanship’, an uncompromising dedication to maintaining the highest industry standards from our master craftsmen.
“We are also revolutionary,” Annie adds. “We introduced the world-exclusive 100-facet Estrella Diamond, which displays an enticing pattern of nine perfectly symmetrical hearts and a solitary blossom visible on the crown.
"Meanwhile, our NOVA Collection uses a special technique to inlay fine diamonds in the narrow gaps between the stones and hence increase the radiance of the jewellery. Our signature products, Raindrop and Eternity, also employ special stone orientations and alignments, together with handcrafted settings, to increase the brilliance of the pieces.
“Over the past few years, to enhance and expand our product line, we have collaborated with several international designers such as micro-sculpture artist Willard Wigan, fashion designer Vivienne Tam and Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi,” Annie adds. “Last year we launched our International Design Collection with a debut showcase featuring art jewellery from American designer Christine Keller.”
Describing herself as open and flexible, willing to listen and respond to fresh ideas, Annie’s leadership has been recognised with numerous industry awards. “I would consider myself a demanding person who also knows how to strike a balance between pushing colleagues’ boundaries and inspiring them to unleash their potential,” she says. “When they see the effects of my decisions, they are convinced.”
I would consider myself a demanding person who also knows how to strike a balance between pushing colleagues’ boundaries and inspiring them to unleash their potential.
Still headquartered in Hong Kong, TSL has expanded to more than 380 stores across China, Malaysia and Hong Kong, with plans to further expand the business’s store portfolio over the next five years.
“We believe that our franchising model in China will continue to be our growth engine, so we’ll keep identifying appropriate franchisees for expanding our retail network. We expect those franchise stores to account for a high percentage of our total stores in the long run.”
As for wearing jewellery herself, Annie complements her outfits with different styles every day, explaining it always makes her feel more stylish and confident. However, there is one particular piece which continues to remain a favourite.
“It’s the ring my husband gave me when we were dating,” she says. “Over the years, I’ve had many, many different pieces, but the ring is still the most unforgettable as it encapsulates the precious memory of being loved.”