Jennifer Hsu is carrying on the family tradition with Mandarin Gem, a store opened by her parents in North Star Mall about 30 years ago.
“Our family started an Asian gift shop in front of the Alamo in 1967,” said Jennifer. “The 1968 HemisFair was the motivation for them to move from Austin to San Antonio. Our parents started with Jade Tree at North Star Mall in 1979. When Frost Brothers department store closed in the mall in the 1980s, our parents decided to open a second store in front of the space the department store had occupied.”
Mandarin Gems initially sold fine gold and platinum jewelry from Asian artisans. When Jennifer joined the family business in 1994, she began to create and design her own jewelry. From the mid-1990s to early 2000, she created many custom designs for catalogs that USAA published for their members. She created one-of-a-kind pieces in both gold and silver.
Jennifer said that her parents had planned for Mandarin Gems to feature exotic gems (such as jade, coral, Lapis, Baltic amber and pearls). Her mother focused on amber when most people never heard of it. The 1993 movie Jurassic Park, which had amber as part of the plot, helped make Mandarin Gems a big sensation in San Antonio.
“It was never our parents’ intention to be a conventional jewelry store,” said Jennifer. “We do not carry watches, nor do we have big collections of diamonds. I chose to emphasize pearls from all over the world, which is why I have been called “the Pearl Queen of San Antonio.”
Posted on: 17th July, 2014 Categories:
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