Love Amidst the Pandemic 疫中有愛

Love Amidst the Pandemic 疫中有愛

Hong Kong Commercial Daily, 2020 May 25

“Love Amidst the Pandemic” - Compassionate Jeweler K.S. Sze & Sons

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to many industries over the past six months, with the retail sector facing a harsh winter. The total sales value in March dropped by 40 per cent compared to the same period last year. While it has become common for companies to balance their books by laying off employees, K.S. Sze & Sons, a jeweler with nearly a century of history, has managed to retain all its staff during these challenging times. The company’s compassionate approach can be linked to its second-generation successor, Dr. Nien-dak Sze, who nine years ago stepped away from a lucrative career in science to lead the family business his father founded.

Dr. Nien-dak Sze, the second-generation successor of K.S. Sze & Sons, took over the family’s jewelry business nine years ago.


The boutique features a range of exquisite and elegant jewelry.

Retaining Employees During the Pandemic

Government statistics show that the retail value of jewelry sales dropped by 60 per cent from January to March this year compared to last year, marking the largest decline in the retail sector. With business significantly affected, some companies have managed to stay open by asking some employees to take unpaid leave, while others have resorted to layoffs to balance their books and reduce payroll expenses.

K.S. Sze & Sons, however, did not lay off employees as a cost-cutting measure amidst the pandemic, ensuring that its staff of more than ten people were paid as usual. When the pandemic was at its peak and the government announced social distancing restrictions, K.S. Sze & Sons also prioritized the health of its employees, giving those working at the Landmark Prince’s boutique two weeks of paid leave. “The boutique’s compact space made it challenging to keep safe distances,” Dr. Nien-dak Sze explained. Meanwhile, the company’s other boutique maintained normal operations with full protective measures in place: wearing masks, frequent hand washing, checking temperatures, and enhanced cleaning.  Dr. Sze emphasized, “Each employee is crucial, and my hope is for us to surmount these challenges together.”

Despite the decrease in turnover due to the pandemic, Dr. Nien-dak Sze believes in finding opportunities amidst the crisis. The pandemic-induced downtime is used to update online information, analyze customer data, and promote the business online, providing customers with a deeper insight into the company’s history and offerings via the Internet.


 During the pandemic, K.S. Sze & Sons’ Landmark Prince’s boutique closed for two weeks with paid leave for the staff.

A legacy Nearly a Century Old

Recounting K.S. Sze & Sons’ origins, Dr. Nien-dak Sze took the reporter back to 1923 when his father, Sze Kong-shun, embarked on his jewelry venture by opening his first store “Yuanfeng” in Shanghai. He started his apprenticeship at the tender age of 12 and, leveraging his years of accumulated jewelry knowledge, began his jewelry business in Hong Kong in 1949.


Dr. Sze spoke extensively about his father’s entrepreneurial story.

Dr. Nien-dak Sze shared stories of his fathers entrepreneurial journey

Dr. Nien-dak Sze reminisced about his initial move to Hong Kong, saying, “I was only two years old at that time, and my father didn’t buy a plane ticket for me. Without CCTV cameras back then, he put me in his luggage, smuggling me into Hong Kong. People had a real sense of humanity back then. While moving around in my Dad’s handheld luggage at customs, nobody stopped us. From a young age, I was exposed to our family business, heading to the shop to help out after school. I watched my father open a small kiosk in the Entertainment Building, then set up a shop in the Central Building, going door-to-door to drum up business, carrying his jewelry with him and introducing himself. My father later said to me, ‘Son, don’t dream of going abroad. I have worked hard to build this shop for you to inherit.’”


The jewel on the left is an exquisite tanzanite feather brooch, symbolizing power, wisdom, and freedom.

In 1963, K.S. Sze & Sons was invited to open a boutique in the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, at which time Dr. Nien-dak Sze was a secondary school student at Wah Yan College. During the 1967 riots in Hong Kong, Dr. Nien-dak Sze went to study in the United States. He explained, “At that time, my father wanted his children to go abroad to escape the turmoil, so I submitted my I-20 (application for a U.S. Visa) and went to the U.S. to study.”


Having moved from Shanghai to further develop in Hong Kong, K.S. Sze & Sons was invited to open in the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

From Scientist to Jeweler

Dr. Nien-dak Sze initially spent a year studying architecture at the University of Hong Kong before moving to Purdue University in the United States, where he majored in Aeronautics. He recalled, “The remote and wild landscape there helped me focus on my studies.” Not only was Dr. Nien-dak Sze top of his class during his studies, but he also earned a scholarship to pursue a doctoral program in Earth and Planetary Science at Harvard University. He lamented, “My father was in the jewelry business for over 50 years, starting as a teenager and working until he was 70. That’s how family businesses are; someone always needs to take over. My sister was also furthering her studies in the U.S. She knew much about jewelry design and loved collecting precious, rare pieces. However, during a health checkup, she discovered she had a chronic illness which was getting worse. On her last trip back to Hong Kong, she said to me, ‘Brother, it's your turn to take over now.’ Even though I was teaching at Harvard


In 2018, K.S. Sze & Sons generously donated an over 10-carat emerald diamond ring to The HUB, a Hong Kong charity, for their fundraising auction.

Leaving behind a lucrative position at Harvard University to become a jeweler and take over his father’s lifetime work was a significant challenge for Dr. Nien-dak Sze. “Unlike research work, I have been learning something new every day in the nine years since taking over the business. Only after personally managing the business did I truly understand the hardships my father went through. The competition in the jewelry industry is much fiercer now than ever before, not only because of the many large brands with chain stores but also due to auction houses dominating the market, making it difficult for small jewelry boutiques to break through,”  Dr. Nien-dak Sze explained.


Among the treasures of K.S. Sze & Sons is a top-quality 15.02-carat, D-color, flawless diamond.

Tapping into the Younger Market

K.S. Sze & Sons, with its 97-year history, is one of the rare long-standing jewelry boutiques in Hong Kong. “The Chinese name 「金星」‘Gold Star’ was created by Sze Kong-shun,” Dr. Sze Nien-dak explained. “Gold was a common element in jewelry stores back in the day, with many shops selling gold. My father thought the word ‘star’ sounded good, so he added it behind ‘gold’. Today’s jewelry, however, primarily focuses on gemstones and more elaborate designs. My father also created the English name K.S. Sze & Sons, where K.S. Sze is the transliteration of his name, and ‘sons’ represents all his descendants.”


With a remarkable 97-year history, K.S. Sze & Sons is one of the few centenary establishments in Hong Kong.

K.S. Sze & Sons boasts a century-long history and a prime location. Dr. Nien-dak Sze hopes to continue his father’s legacy, aiming to expand the market beyond existing clientele. “The key to running a business is to grow the pie. Rent in Hong Kong keeps rising, so expenses will only get higher.  I believe K.S. Sze & Sons needs to appeal to the younger generations, attracting customers of different age groups. Today’s youth prefer simple designs that are meaningful, like a circle or a cross, the symbols of the planet Venus. Moreover, I have recently been learning to use social media platforms and plan to develop more online promotions in the future.”


Looking ahead, K.S. Sze & Sons aims to rejuvenate its brand for a younger audience. The photo shows a piece from the famous Russian brand Fabergé, currently owned by a British company. K.S. Sze & Sons is the exclusive agent in Hong Kong.

香港商報副刊, 2020年05月25日
















施念德原在香港大學讀過一年建築系,後來到美國普渡大學(Purdue University)主修航空學系(Aeronautics),他回憶道:「那裏荒山野嶺,也令我集中精神讀書。」讀書時期施念德不但名列前茅,更獲獎學金,到哈佛大學進修地球與星球科學博士課程(Earth and Planetary Science)。施念德感嘆道:「我父親做了五十多年珠寶,由十幾歲打拼到七十歲,家族企業就是這樣,總要有人接手,我姐姐也在美國深造,她十分懂珠寶設計,而且很熱愛收藏珍貴稀有珠寶,但她檢查身體的時候卻發現有頑疾,身體每況愈下,最近一次回香港時與我說:『弟弟,這次輪到你接班了。』即使那時我還在哈佛教書,還有一班學生,但我仍立刻答應接手父親留下的事業。」

金星珠寶公司在 2018 年捐出一顆10卡多的祖母綠鑽戒給香港樂童行慈善機構 (The HUB) 作為慈善拍賣。