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 Nicholas Chow of Weekdays and Weekends.
As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “I like my money right where I can see it.”
This was the philosophy that sparked Nicholas Chow’s venture into creating his own jewellery line: 5 + 2 / Weekdays and Weekends. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chow travelled to Switzerland for university where he studied luxury brand management. There, he had the opportunity to visit and work with brands such as Voutilainen and Audemars Piguet, getting a front-seat understanding of the brands’ craftsmanship and heritage.
“I always enjoyed bringing jewellery during my travels. However, I was not able to find pieces that best represent my personality and style without the exorbitant price tag. My friends also shared similar frustrations and encouraged me to start 5 + 2 — designing jewellery for everyday wear; weekdays and weekends. It really comes down to all the jewellery that’s been locked up in the safe. Jewellery should be worn all the time! Comfortably and carefree,” Chow says.
“Many people have questioned the ‘value’ of lab-grown gemstones compared to natural stones,” Chow shares. “In my opinion, if we’re talking about investing in a piece of gemstone and hoping the price would go up in the future, only very few gemstones would qualify. Most ‘typical’ natural diamonds aren’t worth much unless the diamond is exceedingly unique or remarkable. In reality, the value of most jewellery purchased nowadays are based on its emotional significance rather than its intrinsic, material value.”
With 5 + 2 / Weekdays and Weekends, Chow hopes to be able to empower customers to exercise their own creativity. You’ll be able to choose your own carat, colour, clarity and cut from the more standard designs to more intricate ones such as Rose, old European or portrait.
“We try our best to be sustainable in many ways, as is the very essence of the brand. Natural resources are scarce, and if we keep exploiting our planet, there will eventually come a day where it all runs out. The ethical issues surrounding mined diamonds are also concerning,” he says. “The improvement of technology has now allowed the quality of lab gemstones to be used in high jewellery.”
Forget Me Not collection
Inspired by environmentalist and conservationist David Brower’s words about ‘borrowing Earth from our children’, Chow wanted to create a collection that was more floral and nature-oriented.
“In the extensive and often overwhelming history of Earth’s 4.5 billion years, we created the Forget Me Not collection to act as a vehicle to renew our sense of purpose in this humble planet we call home,” he says. “This collection features beautiful flower petals, leaves and more fantastic creations of nature, meticulously embellished with 18-karat gold and sustainable gemstones.”
Name: Nicholas Chow
Neighbourhood: The Dark Side
Occupation: Part-time entrepreneur, full-time dad to @hellodarlingchow
1. What is your life motto?
Fake it ’til you make it. I believe one has to imitate confidence, competence and an optimistic mindset in their real life in order to achieve the results they seek. It is the most essential core value in the Law of Attraction: “Act as if you already have it”. I feel like I am living my life as “crossing the river by touching the stones”, an age-old Chinese saying goes that goes 摸著石頭過河——踩穩一步，再邁一步.
I don’t have a mentor or a teacher to help guide my life. While I don’t really have someone to seek advice from, I am very lucky to have a good partner who supports me. Even then, I often get confused and I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right thing. I hesitate and doubt myself all the time. I take everything one step at a time; pretending to be very confident and knowing what I’m doing, hopefully I’ll “make it” one day.
2. Who is your role model?
Wendi Deng Murdoch. I really admire how she was born from a village in China during the Cultural Revolution without speaking a word of English and has now grown to become an entrepreneur, investor, movie producer, media mogul, and a very powerful Chinese lady in America with close personal relationships with multiple leaders of super power countries. I mean, it’s just insane.
3. What was your first job?
My first paid job was during my first year in university. I was working in Hotel Arts in Barcelona as a banquet server. It was an insane experience, with crazy working hours. I had days where I was asked to work from 6am to 10pm with small breaks in between for an entire month. The pay was also discouraging: I got paid 250 Euros a month! Other than that, it was a really cool experience serving such famous people such as Mark Zuckerberg, Beyoncé, Neymar, and Messi who would always come talk to me, to which I calmly replied, “The toilet is over there”.
4. What is your drink of choice?
Depends on the time of the day. It’s coffee before 3pm and champagne after.
5. When was the last time you drove a car?
On Mother’s Day, when I took my mum to Henry’s for lunch and told her Irish Coffee was just regular coffee with “Irish Milk” and that she should try it. She got tipsy after and I had to drive home. I am a very good boy on the road: If the speed limit is 50, I drive 35; it took us 45 minutes to get home when it normally takes 15.
6. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?
My mum’s cooking. I remember last year before the pandemic started; my extended family came to visit us in Hong Kong from Australia. It was the first time my baby cousins came to Hong Kong, and as it was a rather short trip for them (90% of the trip was packed with Disneyland and Ocean Park). On the last night of their trip, my cousins wanted to have Chinese food but it was near impossible to get a table to cater to all of us (18 of us! I have a huge family). With only 3 hours of preparation time, my mother managed to cook a full table of dishes with everyone’s all-time favourites: 咕嚕肉 (sweet and sour pork), 乾煎蝦碌 (Cantonese-style stir fry prawns with tomato sauce), 炸子雞 (crispy chicken), 釀雞翼 (stuffed chicken wings), 蒸肉餅 (steamed meat cake) and many, many more dishes! Not only do we have a big family, but also a big appetite!
7. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
I am still living with my parents, so if I had to pick, it would be home-cooked food and an always-packed fridge.
8. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
The older I get, the more of a morning person I’ve become. As much as I try to be a night owl during weekends, I’m ready for bed by 11pm.
9. Which phone app do you think more people should know about?
Grindr! It’s the best app to make new friends in any city.
10. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Error 404… Not answering this, just thinking about the answer is torturing me.
11. What is your biggest regret in life?
I went to a local and very, very conservative Catholic school for my primary and secondary school life. I felt I would’ve enjoyed and appreciated school much more if I had gone to an international school.
12. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?
The humidity. No matter how much time I spend doing my hair, the moment I step out of my room to non-climate-controlled places, my hair will fall flat.
13. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
Latin America. I had planned to visit September or October 2020, but had to cancel for obvious reasons.
14. If you were a TV show character, who would you be and why?
Blair Waldorf. We’re both fiercely loyal, like to be in charge and would go to great lengths to help our friends.
15. What is your greatest fear?
Another year of Covid, closed borders and masked life.
16. When did you last ride the Star Ferry? What were you doing/where did you go?
I do not remember when exactly, but I take the Star Ferry quite often. Most of the time (given that the weather is not disgusting), I would always walk to Central Pier after dinner to digest a little, then taxi back home from Tsim Sha Tsui.
17. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
McDonald’s chicken nuggets.
18. What is one movie everyone should see?
Pretty Woman. I dream of being picked up by a nice, ravishingly handsome billionaire every day.
19. What’s your favourite tradition?
My birthday month when all my friends would take me out for dinners at nice restaurants.
20. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
The final season of Game of Thrones.
21. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Barcelona. After living there for 6 months, I am very climatised to the daily siesta.
22. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?
You don’t #homekong or #hongkonger on your Instagram.
23. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?
Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey, just a simple family dinner. Oh wait, that’s four only. Perhaps Taylor Swift as well, so I can get a song out of it.
24. What’s your favourite childhood memory?
When I was able to eat anything I wanted and not have to worry about getting fat.
25. Where do you go when you want to be alone?
If you asked me this question two years ago, the answer would be more fabulous, a spontaneous trip to ANYWHERE. Now, the answer would be my toilet.
26. What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?
When I was working at Hotel Arts in Barcelona, I saw my colleague casually picking up a tray of glasses. I tried to do the same. Unfortunately, it was way heavier than I thought, so I slipped and let go of the tray. The sound of breaking glass filled the entire banquet hall, and my manager ran over and told me, “Nicholas, you gotta stop doing this.” I took that advice to heart and left the F&B service industry completely.
27. If you could do it all over again, what is one thing you would do differently?
I would have bought Bitcoin in 2019.