Mengying Zhang, journalist

I began collecting antique and second-hand jewellery from charity shops and car boot sales in 2003, while studying in the UK. My collection includes a variety of items, such as Chinese cloisonné beads exported to the US in the 1920s and a British sixpence pendant made in 1964.

I call the many items I have picked up ‘little cuties’; each one of them brings me memories and a lot of joy.

Collecting these little treasures appeals to my accountant side. One of the reasons I love collecting is that antique jewellery is often a bargain, leaving buyers a good profit margin. Also, some of the collectibles are wearable and useful in daily work life.

Behind each of these ‘cuties’ are traces of life and memories; if you listen to them carefully, the history of a certain individual can come to life as if by magic.

Xiaosen Pu wearing her cloisonné beads

The silver lining of the pandemic was that it allowed me to reboot my hobby

One I treasure a lot is a little piece I call ‘ACCA exam pass tip’: an enamel pin in the shape of an owl that was designed by the famous Norwegian jewellery designer David Andersen. I found the little pin during a visit to one of my regular charity shops; the volunteer knew my ACCA exam was coming up and persuaded me that a little owl of wisdom could be a lucky charm for the exam season. Two weeks later, I passed the Advanced Taxation (UK) exam.

As an accounting professional, I have a busy professional life and my hobby reinvigorates me. It releases the pressures of work while, coming full circle, the work funds my hobby.

The silver lining of the pandemic was that it allowed me to reboot my hobby. I would take some personal time and breaks from work to look around charity shops in Hong Kong and Singapore.

My ‘treasures’ are not expensive ones but, when I appreciate the little surprises in everyday life, they become my tiny sparks that bring joy and light.