All That Glitters, Series 1, Episode 5: Online Wood Witch

I can almost feel this show being pushed to the 9pm slot for its second series.

If they’ve brought out the diamonds for the semi-finals, I can’t imagine what the final is going to involve. BRING ON THE HUMAN TEETH NECKLACES!

Good Old Fisticuffs

You know how last week I joked that because of the BBC budget we likely wouldn’t get a Sapphires and Rubies Week? Well I was very wrong because the Bestseller Challenge for the semi-final is to make a cuff featuring at least 5 gemstones, each fitted with a bezel fitting, which is basically a band of metal encasing it like a wall. I would have been curious to know how the jewellers were allowed to choose their gems – were they given a budget? Was there a stock they could choose from? It’s never really explained.
As for the judges’ requirements, the cuff must feature a gap of 1 and a quarter inches and exude a powerful sense of femininity the likes of which we haven’t seen since Xena: Warrior Princess was cancelled in 2001. It’s specific, but it’s what they want.

In order to make their cuffs the jewellers were given a sheet of silver which they could have just cut the desired cuff shape out of and then manipulated it into a wrist hugging curve. Which is what most of them did but Sonny was once again going full Renaissance Faire and taking us back to the time of forged jewellery and disappearing in a cloud of black smoke like a Disney villain

The smoke is because he was making a crucible out of charcoal, the charcoal lessens the risk of blemishing the silver. Once the silver was melted he would then pour it into his favourite ingot mould, a process he had to do twice due to the fact he wasn’t particularly happy with the first pour.
From there he did then have to bash out the bar into the desired shape of his cuff, which made him about as popular as you’d think bashing silver in a small enclosed space would

Honestly, shout out to the sound recordists Pete Styles & Steve Horwood, this whole show must have been hell on your eardrums.
The point of Sonny going through the forging process was that it gave his silver a darker, more aged look that leant itself well to his plan of making a cuff that resembled the night sky. His gemstone of choice were moonstones that he was hoping would look like stars… the clue in the name being that they kind of wouldn’t…

The biggest issue is the composition of the stones, the actual bracelet is beautiful and I love the colouration and without the stones it really did look very cool

but the very tightly clustered, rather large, stones don’t lend themselves to conveying the expansiveness of the sky. I think if it had maybe borrowed some of the elements from Van Gogh’s Starry Night it might have added some depth to the design.

Hugo had some similar issues to Sonny as he was taking on the sweeping, threatening inherent eroticism of the ocean. He was hoping to create a sort of shoreline effect with his citrines, blue sapphires and labradorite looking as though they’ve been scattered across the beach. You’re probably familiar with sapphires and citrines, labradorite on the other hand… It’s an iridescent stone that was first identified in Labrador in Canada and sadly has nothing to do with being named after someone’s dog. The iridescence of the stone is part of an Inuit legend that a warrior smashed a piece of labradorite with his club and from it burst the Aurora Borealis and as such has a very prominent culture significance to many Inuit and Native American tribes.

Hugo did slightly run out of time which didn’t allow him to finish his cuff to his exacting standards and it lacks a certain finesse and clarity of concept

as Solange said, it’s very heavy looking and could have used some cutting away to lighten it up, which is what made Lee’s seaside themed bangles in the first episode so successful

what was in Hugo’s favour however was his attention to wearability and comfort, the curving of the cuff’s lips was a really nice touch that made getting the thing on and off again a breeze

and sure, they looked slightly like waves but like Sonny, the composition is focused too centrally, which I get – you’ve just payed upwards of £200 for stones, you want them to be seen, but some sort of embellishing or shaping could have been done.

Dan was probably giving himself the most to do by finally deciding that his aesthetic would be angular and not the mish mash of Angular and Natural that he’s kind of been doing. He was doing a lot of intricate cutting out on his hexagonal shaped cuff and then setting several kite-shaped Blue Chalcedony and Rutilated Quartz within the geometric design.

Chalcedony was a new one to me, it’s a waxy looking stone with a long history in jewellery making and ceremonial tools dating back as far as 32,000 years ago. As for Rutilated Quartz, it’s hard to find any information about it beyond some online Wood Witch telling you it’ll cleanse your soul, which is handy, but it seems to be a mostly transparent stone that features internal, golden needle-like formations.

The kite shape of Dan’s stones gave him greater risk while fixing them on as the sharp corners are liable to chipping as you hammer the metal around them, fortunately this didn’t happen, nor did his quite fine, delicate looking latticed silver cuff snap while bending it into shape

he does slightly overbend it and his gap is a little too small but still fits nicely and it is a lovely looking piece

I think it might be a touch busy and the stones are a little lost amongst the cut outs and the planished silver. I think brighter coloured stones might have been the better option, despite the fact I really loved the subtlety of his quartz and chalcedony.
I’m amazed that he managed to get the whole thing finished between the cutting, the bezeling, the texturing and his fight against inanimate objects

He may have won this battle, but he has yet to win the war!

Lastly there was Tamara who was desperately trying to be excluded from the narrative of Making a Feminist Statement by Merely Existing as the only female jeweller left but Katherine would not let her because she has been gearing this punchline up FOREVER

And I’m sure the #DefundTheBBC crowd were having a whale of a time over on the Facebook page as they evidently continued watching the show after claiming to boycott it after the last time Katherine Ryan pulled a “#ReverseSexism”.

As for Tamara’s cuff, it wouldn’t be an episode of All That Glitters without Tamara attempting to do some sort of a starburst design

aside from the engraving she was using a variety of Pink Sapphires, Pink Tourmalines and a statement, central Watermelon Tourmaline that quite literally looks like a slice of watermelon

Tourmalines encompass a wide “species” of stones in a multitude of different colour combinations – the name tourmaline actually comes from the Sinhala word “toramalli” which apparently means “mixed gems” and was the term originally used to categorise the inferior carnelian stones found in Sri Lankan mines.

Like Sonny and Hugo, Tamara’s design was mostly concentrated in the centre of the cuff, however she had tapered the edge to alleviate the heaviness that Hugo’s and Sonny’s suffered from

It’s a really pretty piece of jewellery and the shape, decoration and colours give it a very South Asian feel. The etching could maybe be a little more exact and precise, it’s a little wobbly in some place but it certainly catches the light like an absolute dream.

An Unofficial Bejewelled Cuff Ranking

  1. Tamara’s Tourmaline Dream
  2. Dan’s Bejewelled Scaffolding
  3. Hugo’s Coastal Misstep
  4. Sonny’s Deep Space 9 Carats

Live and Let Diamonds

For this week’s Bespoke Challenge the jewellers have surprisingly been given a 1 carat diamond each to try and not destroy in the process of making an engagement for James and Claire who had their first one stolen

The burglary was obviously a very traumatic event and Katherine Ryan utterly fails to read the room and makes some very uncomfortable attempts at humour while everyone kind of squirms in their seats.
As to what the couple want, they don’t want it to resemble the first ring and Claire wants to be able to wear it every day, so nothing too clunky and obscenely blingy. In order to achieve this the jewellers have one aforementioned diamond in a princess cut and they’re surprisingly big

as well as that they do have 24 melee stones to help build up their designs – melee stones being the tiny diamonds that essentially garnish the larger stone.

Hugo honed straight in on the importance of Canada to the couple and wanted to incorporate a pair of maple leaves on either side of his diamond, which I think was a lovely idea and looked promising in the sketch

unfortunately, with the scale of the ring being so utterly minute the maple leaves lose quite a bit of a definition and aren’t entirely discernible, which might also be to blame on the intense studio lighting

the leaves aside the clawed setting of his diamond is masterfully done and really opens the diamond up to light from all angles which makes it really shine.
The judges both think it could have used a little more pizazz and I think that’s more down to them being from within the jewellery world, to those outside it, I think this looks like a pretty impressive ring, regardless of whether or not you can tell they’re maple leaves. He maybe could have incorporated a few of the melee stones somewhere but I still like it.

Dan got similar complaints for his ring that they felt was a little too commercial and predictable, which it kind of is

the most intriguing part of it to me was the shape of the shank, as he gave it the same wavelike shape that he gave his hoop earrings last week

which involved delicately soldering three separate pieces together and almost resulted in a bit of a disaster

the most bespoke feature of it was the inclusion of a small star on the underside of the diamond because of the couple’s fascination with stars

it’s a cute little detail that shows a lot of thought on Dan’s part. Despite the immaculate finish to the ring (his was definition the shiniest) he wasn’t thrilled with it, particularly the fitting of the 12 melee stones which he had to fix in place in under 30 minutes, the resulting work he then went on to describe as “utter clown shoe work” and he maybe should have held back on insulting his ring so much because Claire now owns said clown shoe ring.

With his light having been turned off Sonny knew he had to showcase some very precise goldsmithing and he was hoping the twisted wire shank that he was creating would be enough

the result was quite a clunky ring but I do think the twisted gold shank complimented the bezel setting of his diamond

the triangle engraving on the edges of the bezel really compliment the diamond and accentuate the glitz nicely, my one gripe is that the three diamonds on the side of the ring look a little sparse due to the size of the fitting

I think there’s someone out there who would be overjoyed to have this as their engagement ring but it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t for James and Claire.

With Sonny going thoroughly modern, it was up to Tamara to take us back in time as she attempted a very tricky method of setting her diamond directly into molten metal as opposed to manipulating solid metal into a clasp. The peril being that the diamond is being subjected to the same temperature as the gold as can be dulled by this. The other peril being that the casing can crack in the process as it shrinks around the diamond, which unfortunately happened to Tamara on her first attempt

luckily she got it right on the second go and her diamond survived the process and looked as shiny as ever on the other side

I don’t know if the setting particularly suits a diamond, or does it justice – I think something like a purple amethyst or a really deep green emerald would look stunning in it. I do agree with Shaun that it has that really wonderful antiquated look that you only see in museum pieces, which is really cool. As a bespoke piece for the couple though… it lacks a little personalisation that the other three managed to achieve.

An Unofficial Engagement Ring Ranking

  1. Dan’s Hidden Star, Crouching Jeweller
  2. Hugo’s Undefined Canadian Ring
  3. Tamara’s Blast From The Past
  4. Sonny’s Twisted Knuckleduster

So after spending most of the round berating his own work and then the judges calling it too ordinary, James chooses Dan’s ring as their Engagement Ring 2.0

which Dan seemed both delighted and slightly confused by

TAKE IT AND RUN DAN! They’ll only see you insulting it months later!

As for Jeweller of the Week, it’s given to Tamara for managing to create two very beautifully pieces that really showcased her unique aesthetic

which means everyone is pretty much level pegging going into the final, making it a particularly exciting series that really could go any which way!

This does of course mean that after weeks of skating through by the skin of his teeth, luck ran out for Sonny

I do think he made really great television and was perfect casting for the show – bringing in a very unique sense of style and a willingness to show unusual techniques. If you want to see more of it, I thoroughly suggest following him on Instagram at SonnyBaileyAirdJewellery – his stories can be quite rambling but he’s very eager to show off his methods and his insane bling – he’s uses A LOT of stones!

And so, 3 Jewellers go into the final

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