We are at the penultimate episode with four remaining contestants battling it out to get to the final, next week. The first challenge is the Best Seller Challenge: to design and make a pair of mismatched earrings with one made as a drop and the other a stud. The jewellers are given gold sheet and wire, and a collection of stones. Sean Leane set the challenge as he says asymmetry is his guilty pleasure.
Lecturer, BA (Hons) Jewellery and Objects
Many mass-produced earrings are usually made in matching pairs, whereas hand-made earrings can more easily be as mirror images of each other or asymmetrical. Designers can challenge how earrings are worn and look in a variety of ways, however the jewellers here are restricted by time and materials. Jack still manages to secure the drop earring in an interesting way with a chain hooking on the end of the post. David developed earrings where the pieces can be dismantled and changed depending on the occasion.
One or more stones were expected to be included in each earring and it was interesting to see how each jeweller approached holding a different material in the metal. David drilled a hole for a post to feed through, with gold melted around a diamond to create a ball that was fused to the end of the post. Other contestants used more traditional rub over, pave and claw settings. Traditional stone setting is a great way to consider how and what other objects, materials and stones can be held, and the style and design of them has a lot of potential to be pushed and explored to create really unique style and design.
Jack’s pirate-inspired asymmetrical earrings set with chalcedony stones won top place in this challenge, which was deserved due not only to the well-made aspects, but also that he made the findings and settings a little different from the norm.
The second challenge was to create a pair of mismatched cufflinks from a daughter for her father to wear when he collects his award for his service, bravery and support as a street warden. Inspiration was drawn from the wearer’s love of skiing, family, drama teaching and love of films. Restrictions were again in the materials where silver had to be used and embellished with gold and 1.8mm diamonds.
All of the jewellers were relatively literal with their designs, with two or more theatre masks, old film canisters and mountain scenes. All of them also made the same swivel hinge bar findings and all were interesting and nicely made. Jack’s was a particularly well-crafted and well finished piece which was selected by the client and made him this week’s star jeweller. However, I would have liked to see a little more creativity in the way the cufflinks would be worn and held in place.
Sadly, David left this week, however it is the stage where it is sad to see any leave so close to the final and he was congratulated on his creativity and unique work. Although a craftsperson and maker, David had only been making jewellery for two years when the show was filmed. Let’s hope he keeps pushing his ideas and designs so we can see his unique work in the future and is inspired to take up jewellery as a career in one way or another in the future.
If you would like to push your ideas and create unique work, the BA Jewellery and Objects Course at Birmingham City University is ideal for you. Learning to challenge the traditional processes, techniques and materials, on the course students are taught to create a unique style and area for themselves within the jewellery industry. The new foundation course in Jewellery, Gemmology and Horology introduces students to the range of processes, techniques and industries to ways of researching, exploring and making something of their very own, this will allow them to choose the BA they wish to progress to with real confidence and knowledge. If you have already undertaken your BA, you could help push and progress your career with the MA programmes on offer. The MA in Jewellery and Related Products aims to help students broaden their understanding of the jewellery industry even further, with in-depth research, exploration, questioning, reflection and execution of jewellery or objects, speeding up the journey to the next stage of the direction the student wishes to progress into.
If you are more interested in working within the trade and mastering the traditional skills used in jewellery, then the Higher National Diploma is perfect for you. It is an intense two-year programme of making learning skills such as stone setting, hand engraving, computer aided design and machinery, wax work and casting. If you have a love of jewellery, but not so much the design and making there is also opportunity to study the science with BSc and MSc in Gemmology the business with a MA in Luxury Jewellery Management and the engineering with a BA in Horology where you will create clock movements, work on watches and timepieces.