All that Glitters Episode Five: Engagement Rings

This week in the All That Glitters workshop it was the semi-final with only four jewellers left: Sonny, Tamara, Dan and Hugo. As the competition nears its end, we saw them take on new challenges with cuff bracelets and engagement rings.

Close up jewellery design

For the ‘Bestseller’ challenge this week, the jewellers were tasked with creating a stone set cuff bracelet set with a minimum of five gemstones, each to be bezel set to add flare, colour and beauty to the silver base. With only five hours to complete this task, we again saw the drama we’ve come to love from this show. This week’s challenges were a perfect way to introduce the world of gemmology to our screens with such a fantastic array of gemstones for the jewellers to choose from, including, of course, the number one gemstone: diamonds.

As ever, the jewellers were set very stringent rules to follow; they were asked to leave a 1 ¼” gap for the wrist, adorn their bracelet with five gemstones, and to bring their signature style to the piece.

As with a lot of jewellery making, there are specialists in certain fields. Some people only do stone setting, others are specialist polishers, whilst some, like jeweller Dan, will work as ‘jobbing jewellers’ but very few are fully qualified in gemmology alongside their jewellery making skills.

Cuff bracelets created by the All That Glitters contestantsTop row (L-R): Work by Dan and Hugo. Bottom row (L-R): Work by Sonny and Tamara.
Images courtesy of BBC and Twenty Twenty Productions

Gemmology is the science of identifying and analysing gemstones, often for use in jewellery making. Students on our Gemmology and Jewellery Studies course here at BCU work in purpose-built gem labs, carrying out a range of gemmological tests, and learn advanced-level analytical techniques, diamond grading and jewellery valuation.

Episode five also saw the semi-finalists take centre stage and create four engagement rings to fit a client’s brief in the ‘Bespoke’ challenge. The jewellers literally took thousands of pounds worth of gold and diamonds and created an heirloom worthy of any boutique jeweller’s window.

Tamara chose a very unusual (and slightly scary!) way of setting her 1ct princess cut diamond; we were all on the edge of our seats to see how that one turned out. Hugo again showed his flair for finishing while Sonny stuck with his rough and ready style, and Dan didn’t let us down with his precise making skills to make another stunning piece.

Engagement rings created by the All That Glitters contestants

Top row (L-R): Work by Dan and Hugo. Bottom row (L-R): Work by Sonny and Tamara.
Images courtesy of BBC and Twenty Twenty Productions

An engagement ring can often be the first commission you are asked to fulfil as a jewellery designer and bespoke commissions for engagement rings are big business! On our Jewellery and Silversmithing - Design for Industry course, we set design briefs like this to allow students to practice the skill of designing to the customer’s requirements and, more importantly, to their budget. Working the design around the all-important centre stone, calculating the weight for gold, platinum or sometimes palladium to meet the budget, or adding accent diamonds are all part of the design challenge.

Charles Green and Son, managed by Tom Green, is a pillar of the jewellery manufacturing industry in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter and a great supporter of our course. The company sets live briefs for a student led competition, provides work experience so students can see their designs through production and provides mentoring opportunities for graduates to develop their collections beyond the four walls of our educational establishment.

In fact, many of our alumni have gone on to pursue careers designing and making bespoke rings and other jewellery including Annabel Lumb who has recently become one of many graduates to join Charles Green and Son, and Kiya Corrales, an independent jewellery designer with a commitment to ethical practices and materials.

After another fascinating episode, we’re excited to see what’s in store for next week’s final and what challenges the remaining jewellers will face. Is your favourite still in the running? Tune in next week to see who’s crowned Britain’s Next Jewellery Star!

Find out more about All That Glitters