All That Glitters Episode Four: Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds and more

This week saw the five remaining jewellers take on the ‘Bestseller’ challenge of the hoop earring and for the ‘Bespoke’ challenge they were tasked with making a gold locket for client Zeynep’s mother’s bone marrow stem cell donor, Annette.

Andrew Howard
Lecturer, School of Jewellery

Inspecting gem close up

As with each week, gold brings with it its own challenges - temperature changes, pliability of the metal, differing melting points, the added personal stresses of working with a more luxurious and expensive material and to add fuel to the fire only five hours to make the pieces work.

It’s interesting to see that the jewellers were given 12g of gold and had the option to choose the form that those 12g took, with Sonny opting for grain to melt down and roll out, Tamara choosing sheet and Dan taking the decision to use wire.

When we set our students a brief here at the School of Jewellery, we will give a theme, a style or a technique to use. No matter how big the group size is, be it two or 22, we will always see something different being created and it’s great to see the jewellers showing how possible it is to come up with something so completely different with just one ground rule of 12g.

What I liked about this is how it shows the variants of design - the jewellers selected how much of the given 12g they used and during the design process considered the fit, form and function of the earrings and some would suggest the most important aspect, the wear-ability of the items produced.

Hoop earrings created by the All That Glitters contestants

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

Sonny kept with his signature style and this is something we see change in our jewellers first few years with us here at the School of Jewellery, whilst they establish their way of working and designing. Sonny chose to use an ear pin and butterfly back as his way of securing the hoop in the ear when worn. Tamara showed us a step up from plain sheet by using skills taught across a range of courses here at the School of Jewellery - press forming. It’s a way of creating volume yet keeping costs down and is essential when considering the challenge of ‘Bestseller’. Lee and Dan chose to create a hinged locking mechanism - quite a feat in the available time. Hugo elected to go down a very structural route and created stunning dragonfly earrings and was the only one to use the wire as a direct earring hook from the piece through the ear. With Dan’s simple yet elegant forms, he wowed the judges.

The beauty of an open brief also comes with the stresses of being able to make exactly what you want to sometimes. We see each year when our students enter the Goldsmiths Craft & Design Council Awards how the openness can be taken with both pleasure and fear and the same can be said for closed briefs too. At the School of Jewellery we mix up the briefs within course modules to ensure we allow all students to find their feet, thankfully with more than five hours to create their pieces!

This week’s ‘Bespoke’ challenge was to create a keepsake locket for the client - Zeynep’s mother’s stem cell donor, Annette, who was fortunate enough to match Zeynep’s mother and was able to donate to keep her alive.

Lockets created by the All That Glitters contestants

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

In jewellery making, one of the nicest parts can be creating a memory, an heirloom or a piece designed to commemorate a special time in families’ lives and this week’s ‘Bespoke’ challenge allowed the jewellers to do just that.

Seeing again how different the pieces were both in shape and finish, again showed the variety of options available to create the pieces. Hugo utilised ball burrs for his signature textures and allowed the light to dance on the freshly carved metal, whilst Tamara’s sphere had fine detailing and Dan demonstrated angular precision and delicate soldering work. The beauty of the material is how many ways it can be finished to show its elegance but also editing that finish for the available timescales. Whenever a timed challenge is given, we always advise our students to design for outcome - what is it that will make the piece stand out but allow the finish to not be comprised. I feel that Hugo and Lee really understood that this week but sadly, Lee’s piece lacked the final finesse to take those steps to be worn comfortably.

Our Higher National Diploma and Design For Industry students are invited to apply for the UK World skills competition held at the NEC each year where timed challenges to precision outcomes are set and successful candidates move through the rounds in the UK heats to finally compete against top jewellers from all over the world.

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