All That Glitters, Series 2, Episode 3: The Great MicroSoft War

Me after accomplishing even the most basic of tasks.

Well, they stealthily pushed this out on Tuesday night with little or no fanfare.

Pearly Risers

I cannot believe that the episode of All That Glitters that aired off schedule and was buried behind the mammoth that is Bake Off’s claim to Tuesday night was one in which they had to make pearl necklaces, Twitter would have had a field day! Because Lord knows Katherine Ryan was on her best behaviour to not even offer the slyest glance to camera anytime anyone said “I love a pearl necklace!”, that was when everyone wasn’t pointedly saying “pearl link necklace” to stop me from taking too many unsavoury screenshots – HOW DARE YOU TAKE MY POWER AWAY FROM ME! Although, this one did slip through the net

but it might just be that anything David says somehow sounds like an innuendo.

As we were dealing with gold, silver and pearls – Shaun had come dressed all fancily like a bartender that will also tell you your fortune

Your future is looking… Dark and stormy.

In order to make their 8 inch necklaces, they had been given both silver and 9 carat gold wire as well as 16 inches of strung pearls and if you’re Bonnie, just a touch of blood – whether this was a part of Julie-From-Down-The-Road’s super secret pearl stringing technique that doubles up as a ritual to summon Pazuzu wasn’t clear

I dunno, Naomi Campbell might be interested?

Aside from her Blood Pearls, Bonnie’s chain was inspired by paperclips that would each hold a pair of pearls that would be able to move up and down the link which I had visions of looking like a war trophy from the Great MicroSoft War

fortunately Bonnie was able to make it look as much not like that as you possibly could with paperclip shapes and two big, round, almost googly eyed pearls on them

I was so pleased that everything worked – the links were very well engineered, the pearls moved up and down and her restrung pearls were very secure. I don’t know if the design is personally my favourite, I think it’s a little clunky but I can certainly see why someone else would quite like it.

Bonnie had at least worked with pearls quite a lot as she makes bridal jewellery and enjoys using them, having almost named her daughter Pearl and imaginably stopped when she realised every jeweller she ever met would make the same Mother of Pearl joke – this did not stop Katherine

Tianne wasn’t quite so fortunate and had never actually worked with pearls before, which is probably why she spent so much time concentrating very heavily on her hexagonal chain links, to the point where Katherine had to come and intimidate her away from the polishing machine using a truly anime villain level power stance

but to be fair, her chain was really quite beautiful, it was just a pity that she hadn’t restrung her pearls and had just attached the buyer’s strand on them with a knot that wouldn’t be earning her any graces with The Scouts

I’m also not really sure it’s giving me the art deco vibe she was going for – there’s only so much that it being a loose necklace with some geometric shapes can take you in that direction.

Piers had also cut a few corners by just attaching the buyer’s strand to the one side of his asymmetrical necklace, which is a pity because the side with the pearls interspersed amongst his links is probably my favourite design of the entire challenge

it’s so delicate and refined looking, but I can see why he might not have wanted to do the entire necklace like that because it was painstaking work having to tediously solder the links shut without damaging the pearls, which are very sensitive to any sort of heat – he was having to put a stick in his mouth to keep the internal screaming within him just for half a necklace

I would not be surprised if “a jeweller’s bit” was an actual piece of equipment to be honest.

Jack was also going for an asymmetrical design, with half the necklace being a standard string of pearls (that he had restrung like a good boy) and the other half being a chain link designed to somewhat evoke the shape of an oyster with pearls inside them

I think it’s really beautiful and I really love the graduated effect that the oyster links have – it almost gives it the look of a timelapse of a shooting star. And I do love that Jack makes such elegant pieces because he does throw himself around that workshop like a ragdoll

and I particularly enjoyed Katherine and Shaun having their pre-challenge chat about how to work with pearls and Jack just sprinting across in the background

someone please set a workshop speed limit, for his and Tianne’s sake

She does have to get to the polishing machine before Katherine can stop her.

David probably had the most classic approach to the pearl necklace – doing a foxtail chain and three strands of pearls which gave it a bit of a turn of the century opera necklace kind of feel

the loops are maybe a touch lopsided, but the gold silk and his stringing method were really well done. As Dinny said though, it’s not quite a bestseller by virtue of the fact it looks just a little bit too much like costume jewellery.

Lastly we have Emma who was incorporating her pearls into parts of her links, much like Piers had done, but her necklace was more of what I kind of wish his had been

as Shaun said, the unevenness and irregularity of the twists does somewhat take away from the necklace, but I still think it has a really cool almost nebula-esque look about it with the sweeping shapes and the almost floating pearls.

An Official Pearl Necklace Ranking

  1. Jack’s Oyster Links (patent pending)
  2. Bonnie’s MicroSoft War Trophy
  3. David’s Night At The Opera
  4. One Half of Piers’s Necklace
  5. Emma’s Plot Twist
  6. Tianne Really Likes Hexagons

Imprints Charming

The Bespoke Challenge this week was a particularly emotional one as the clients were Shema and Ian who were looking for a charm bracelet to represent the journey they’ve gone on in order to create their family after their first son, Altair, was stillborn. And knowing the toll that losing a child can put on a couple, I really appreciated how candid and open they were about their experiences and I’m so happy for them that they’ve managed to subsequently have two children, Faris and Lyra

so there did feel like there was a lot riding on this challenge and the jewellers were very much embracing that.

For their charm bracelets, the jewellers were having to cast at least 3 charms that had some sort of symbolic meaning and significance to Ian and Shema’s family. Fortunately they were not having to make the chain as well, but they were having to select the links that would best suit the charms that they created.

David went in a very different direction to everyone else, I did worry about the fact that his charms just being flat disks that he was etching and piercing symbols onto would be seen as a bit of a cop-out in the eyes of the judges given that most of the other jewellers were doing quite complex moulding

it does almost lean a little more fashion-y than it does charm bracelet, but he had chosen to go with the chunkier, less stereotypically charm bracelet aesthetic because Shema likes chunkier jewellery, as illustrated by her pretty awesome tiger necklace – I keep seeing a magpie one like it that at some point the universe is going to force me to buy

and that’s an important part of the challenge – the piece has to suit the client and I could absolutely see Shema wearing David’s bracelet. I do wish we knew what the symbols meant, they never showed David explaining it like they did everyone else, instead his walkabout discussion with Shaun was dedicated to his Bake Off audition tape

hey, there’s only so much difference between making tiny golden charms and inexplicably being asked to make a 3D sculpture of your least favourite school teacher out of gingerbread.

While David managed to get away with his charms being flat, Tianne was a little less successful in that regard, despite her attempt to add some detail

the idea was really cute – all the charms represented the meanings of the children’s names, it’s just a pity they weren’t quite as well realised as her concept sketches

and you did kind of know where this was all heading for Tianne the moment she demoulded her pieces and said “I can fix it” for just about all of them

she could not, in fact, fix them.

Tianne wasn’t the only one with moulding issues as Piers had a tiny fragment missing from his rainbow charm which he seemed to be trying to fix with the power of his mind alone

Katherine tried to assure him that it actually made his rainbow a lot more symbolically meaningful and resonant, however Shaun was quite clearly internally screaming that he better fix the rainbow

I was very relieved that he didn’t try to recast it and instead went for a kintsugi-style mending job in which the break was filled with gold in order to find beauty and value in it

both Shema and Ian seemed genuinely moved by that particular charm, and they loved the rest of his bracelet too – the apple symbolising New York and the 3 stars being their three children

I think his also looked the most like what I’d expect a charm bracelet to look like too.

While the other jewellers all went for just the three charms, Bonnie being ever the maximalist, was instead going for a total of 5 charms – the initials S and I, acorns, Durdle Door and the centerpiece being a rainbow disc

the rainbow is great, and I love that it works as a link in the bracelet. The judges weren’t wild about the other charms, the Durdle Door one looking a bit like it was just a lump of silver, which to be fair is quite an accurate depiction of Durdle Door

I think maybe she just chose the wrong things to try to mould on such a small scale.

Jack had a similar issue with his star charm which he had tried to give a speckled finish to by pouring his silver over gold dust, but the whole thing kind of chunked up and ended up looking a bit more like a tortoise than a star

but his other two charms, a phoenix and a leaf, had worked quite quite well – the leaf could probably have afforded to have been a slightly more interesting and detailed leaf though

and the phoenix, while very sharply made, did look a bit like a logo for an American Football team

Go team!

Emma probably had the most intricate moulding job of anyone, as in order to maker her Fatima’s Hand charm, a Middle Eastern symbol of protection, she was going the full Ice Truck Killer and severed a Barbie’s hand

she’ll be mailing the borrowed Barbie back to her daughter piece by piece.

I was really quite astonished at how well Emma’s hand mould came out in the end, especially after Piers had a chunk taken out of his rainbow and Tianne slowly lost the will to live

you really couldn’t have hoped for a better result! And it was a worthy centrepiece of the bracelet, with her other two charms being a pebble (should have thought of that Bonnie) and what she said was a constellation but I’m not sure if the geometric shape she eventually added was the intended design or not

and as much as I did find it quite funny that one of her charms was just a pebble, it had a really nice finish and colour to it

so at least she had made it interesting and feel like an actual charm.

An Unofficial Charm Bracelet Ranking:

  1. Piers’s Rainbow Connection
  2. Give Emma A Hand
  3. David’s It’s Fashion Sweaty, Look It Up
  4. Jack’s Phoenix Alright
  5. Bonnie’s Everything And The Kitchen Sink Bracelet
  6. Don’t Worry, I Can Fix Him.

It was a very successful night for Piers as he managed to both have his bracelet chosen by Shema and Ian and won Jeweller of the Week

he deserved something nice as a treat.

The elimination was a little bit of a no brainer and sure enough Tianne was the third Jeweller to leave the competition

but as she said, she’s fresh out of a college and made it this far with 1 Jeweller of the Week win under her belt – and if you want to follow her and see more of her stuff, you can at TsFineJewellery on Instagram.

And so, 5 jewellers remain!

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One thought on “All That Glitters, Series 2, Episode 3: The Great MicroSoft War

  1. Meerium

    They also snuck out episode 4 last night, which I caught by sheer fluke. Dinny Hall is an excellent judge this series.

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