Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration of a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Melody Yau.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Melody Yau is the director of Lovemark Diamond. Having earned her title as a GIA Gemologist, Yau is a professional in all things diamond and fine jewellery.
From a young age, Yau had a deep passion and love for the natural formation of diamonds, which sparked her ambition to pursue the title. Having completed her neuroscience degree in London, Yau was a management consultant before taking on the challenge of working as the director of Lovemark Diamond in Hong Kong.
From management consulting to Lovemark Diamond
Although previously travelling around the world as a management consultant, Yau took on the challenging transition into the business scene at Lovemark Diamond. Yau has always considered herself a left-brained individual — everything science, maths and solving problems. This was why she loved becoming a gemologist in addition to her job as a management consultant.
“Two years ago, I was asked to join Lovemark Diamond. At that time, it was a tough decision to make because I could continue as a management consultant, which I was really enjoying. There were so many opportunities to travel, so you met so many clients across different industries. I worked with the British military all the way to an Australian-listed company and helped them solve very interesting but challenging problems,” Yau explains.
While studying her neuroscience degree in university, Yau took time in one of her summers to complete a GIA Gemologist programme to feed her passion for natural diamonds.
“I’ve always had an interest in fine jewellery and natural diamonds. That combined with the opportunity at Lovemark Diamond, I was like alright I’ll give this a try. So from Day 1 of joining Lovemark Diamond, I already felt hugely invested in it because of what I gave up. I also firmly believe in the brand’s products, what it had to offer, and it’s potential.”
“The GIA Gemologist programme trained me to be able to grade diamonds. I liked it because it’s a lab. Very closely related to sciences. You look at a diamond under a microscope and map out all its characteristics, then grade its cut, clarity, colour and carat. I quite enjoyed it!”
A natural diamond’s formation resembles our own journey of growth
Yau expressed her deep fascination with natural diamonds and love for fine jewellery. From the initial natural process of how diamonds are formed to the final product you wear around your neck, Yau finds inspiration in the life of diamonds.
“Diamonds are formed deep within the Earth. Millions and billions of years of intense heat and pressure, diamonds are mined and cut into the beautiful form we see. For me, the whole journey of what natural diamonds had to endure has always intrigued me, which is why when our brand says it’s here to celebrate the constantly evolving modern day women and men, that includes the scars, the imperfections, the work in progress, the things that people don’t necessarily celebrate,” says Yau.
“Every time I wear fine jewellery, I can walk out feeling confident, empowered, and ready to go. I remind myself to appreciate the realness and rawness of all that happens in my own journey, because that is what makes me who I am.”
Name: Melody Yau
Neighbourhood: Tsim Sha Tsui
Occupation: GIA Gemologist & Director of Lovemark Diamond
1. What is your life motto?
Not really a life motto, but something that our brand advocates and I’m still trying to live by myself — to accept and love our constantly evolving selves. So many things in life are out of our control, but what is certain is that every high and low makes us who we are today. What’s important is to love yourself through all of it, and continue to persevere no matter what.
As one of my team says — “best things in life take time” — just like how we’re on this never-ending journey to become our best selves.
2. Who is your role model?
One of the founding partners at the management consulting firm I worked at. To this day, he still mentors me. He showed me what it’s like to be a compassionate leader, and that it’s okay to be my authentic self.
When I first started working there I felt quite intimidated, especially in front of clients, and thought I had to pretend to be someone else to impress them. He taught me that I only had to dial up/down certain qualities of myself, not be a completely different person — to excel. To this day, whenever I’m feeling nervous or in doubt, I still tell myself I just need to be my authentic self.
3. What is your drink of choice?
Old fashioned. Sometimes you just need a strong drink at the end (or in the middle) of a long day.
4. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
My tiny balcony — it’s my little sanctuary.
It fits only a very comfortable lounge chair from Francfranc and a few potted plants that I try very hard to keep alive. It looks out over the top of all the surrounding residential buildings and towards the hillside of the neighbourhood. My favourite pastimes are breathing exercises, people and car watching, journaling and reflecting.
5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl. During the day I’m always rushing from place to place, attending to various things that come up, and juggling all aspects of the business.
Only at night do I finally have time to myself to sit down properly and find the quiet time to process my thoughts and work through my to-do list.
6. Which phone app do you think more people should know about?
Sanity & Self. It’s a self-care app geared towards females, with a library of compassion audios across topics a modern day woman might encounter, along with meditation guides, sleeping guides, journal and mood tracker.
I think it’s often easy to talk harshly to yourself and put yourself down whenever things are not going well — that’s still a habit I’m trying to work on. My favourite thing to do is to put on a mask, listen to self-compassion audio and just insert a little self-love at the end of a long day.
7. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Eggs. I just love eggs, and there are so many ways to prepare it — scrambled eggs, fried eggs, British egg soldiers, French omelette, Japanese egg sushi — the possibilities are endless! I’ll never get bored of it.
8. What is your biggest regret in life?
When my Grandfather passed away, I missed the opportunity to say goodbye. I was rushing to the hospital as soon as I got the call, but it was still too late…
You probably hear it often, but treasure and cherish those who are around you. Sometimes things happen so suddenly and unexpectedly — goodbyes are never easy.
9. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
Going on a safari holiday in Africa or an arctic expedition to see penguins! I’ve always been very fond of animals and nothing is more relaxing than escaping the city for a dose of nature.
10. What is your greatest fear?
Cockroach-phobia? Or wasting time? Or thinking I haven’t given it my 100%.
11. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Singing at the top of my lungs while I’m driving. I’m a shy singer, so I only feel comfortable singing when I’m alone and certain that no one else can hear me.
12. What is your typical Sunday like?
Sleep in, do one, if not two workouts, then either meet up with some friends or catch up on work, and have dinner with my family and grandmother. I often don’t get to work out much during the week, so I squeeze in as many as I can over the weekend.
13. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?
The opening weekend of my pop-up. I was a nervous wreck as this was our first time setting up our own physical shop. My team and I had worked so so hard leading up to this point and there were still so many things that I wanted to fix but we were running out of time.
Thankfully we had overwhelming support from our generous friends and family. If I could relive it, I would have told myself to just breathe, accept everyone’s well wishes, stop nit-picking at things that others don’t even notice and just enjoy the moment.
14. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
London. I see it as my second home, I lived there for 6-7 years before moving to Sydney and then back to Hong Kong. Prior to Covid, I used to revisit often. I miss the cultural diversity, the endless food options, the musicals and plays, the art scene and most importantly, my friends, whom I haven’t been able to see for a while now. Long distance friendship is bittersweet.
15. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?
If he or she knows his or her neighbourhood dai pai dong or cha chaan teng.
16. Where do you go when you want to be alone?
Violet Hill. I’ve recently started to really enjoy solo hiking. I start the hike by listening to a meditation guide to clear my head and really be present, then listen to an audiobook for the rest of the hike — I’m currently listening to 12 Rules for Life.
17. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
Pine trees. I love the smell of Christmas trees and always insist on having a real one every Christmas.
18. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?
My cooking has really gone rusty even since I moved back to Hong Kong, but I used to always make baked pineapple honey soy chicken (with lots of garlic) whenever I wanted to impress.
19. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?
Growing up my sister has always taught me a lot. To this day I still go to her for advice for everything from work to everyday life. I don’t think I can nail it down to a single important lesson.
She taught me how to be strong and stand up for myself, how it’s okay to have an opinion, to be thorough with work and especially pay attention to the details.
20. Do you have any favourite tattoos or special birthmarks? What is it?
I have one on my back that says “warrior”, I got it at a time when I was a little lost and going through a rough patch, and it’s a constant reminder to myself to always continue fighting like a warrior.
21. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?
Never be alone. I’m comfortable being on my own, but I also like spending time with my friends or getting to meet new ones. I draw energy from being around people.
22. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?
If I’m completely honest, not sure I ever will… With new goals added to my list everyday and the imposter syndrome that creeps up every now and then. But I’m going to say — not yet because I know eventually, I’ll get there — wherever ‘there’ may be.
23. What energises you about your work?
The potential I see in our brand. We have so many new exciting initiatives planned ahead. The industry is going through a massive change, and we’re ready to capitalise on it. (Hint! Stay tuned!) It’s not going to be easy, but precisely because of that it keeps me on my feet and energises me to get out of bed every morning and hustle.
24. Start your life again at age 15 with all the knowledge you have now, or fast forward 10 years?
Start again at age 15, and avoid all the mistakes and over-worrying. But then again what’s the fun in life if that was the case?
25. What’s your favourite tradition?
CNY morning! I get dressed in my new clothes, recite the auspicious CNY greetings that I memorised to my family, then we sit down to enjoy the traditional turnip cakes and other puddings, paired with freshly-brewed Chinese tea. It’s especially precious because our family rarely has the chance to have breakfasts at home together.
26. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
27. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why?
Agreeing to join the Lovemark Diamond business.
When I was presented with the option to either stay in my consulting life or help grow a start-up in a completely new industry — the easier option would’ve been to stay in management consulting.
By then I had found my groove and was receiving good feedback from my team and clients alike, and I would’ve comfortably climbed the corporate ladder. But I decided to take the path less travelled. I wanted to try it for myself, and even if I did fail, I’ll know I’ve at least tried. Fast forward to 2+ years later, here I am — still a lot to learn and all the uncertainty still scares me every day, but I’m here for all of it.