All That Glitters: Britain's Next Jewellery Star: Episode #1.1
April 15, 2021 8:09 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

The 8 jewellers are set their first challenges by the judges. The Bestseller Challenge asks them to make three silver bangles each. For the Bespoke Challenge client Ben wants a pendant necklace for his mum to wear when meeting the Queen.
posted by ellieBOA (8 comments total)
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear ...

I love this type of competition craft show, but the presence of Katherine Ryan was off-putting, as I really don't like her, and nothing she did in this first episode changed that. I know the hosts of these shows are all about the innuendo, but she was crude and unfunny, and the "joke" about the paternity test at the end was way off-beam and awkward. The "pretend you're a white man" comment was bizarre.

The judges, Shaun Leane and Solange Azagury-Partridge, looked uncomfortable and Solange in particular was po-faced with a monotone voice that did nothing to lighten the mood. I know she is a world-class jeweller, but there was no warmth there, nor any supportive criticism for the contestants. Shaun was slightly better, but they both looked as if they'd rather be anywhere else.

I also think the nature of the craft is difficult for TV. In the other craft competition shows - pottery, sewing, baking, glass-blowing - you can see a thing being made without needing to get right in and close. But with jewellery, it's really difficult to see what the contestants are doing, or what the final piece will look like.

But I did like the contestants, and will watch the show for them alone.

Overall, I thought this was a terrible example of the genre, and looked even worse in comparison with the Sewing Bee, a new series of which started the next night.
posted by essexjan at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Aside from Katherine Ryan (I do like her) I agree with you about the hosts being awkward and the process hard to film. That said, I have warmer feelings overall--I don't know anything about jewelry making so it doesn't take much to please me, and universally the first season of these types of competition shows is always pretty awkward compared to later seasons. It definitely has nothing on Sewing Bee--but Sewing Bee is well in its stride in the seventh season, with judges and a host who have developed a good rapport on camera and a familiar, comforting rhythm to the camera work and episode arcs. The first seasons of Sewing Bee, Pottery Throwdown, and Bake-Off were charming but totally rough compared to where they are now.

One major difference between this and other crafter-type shows: it looks like all of the jewelers are professionals, though maybe not top-tier-running-their-own-stores professionals. I wonder if that's because of the expense? It's one thing to be a hobbyist jeweler if you're working with more common materials, but the show is focusing on precious metals (and gems?) and I'm guessing that's just too expensive for almost anyone who is just doing it for funsies. Despite them being professionals they've gone with making them relatable rather than imposing like in Bake-Off: The Professionals. I appreciate that. While I enjoy The Professionals it doesn't hit the same homey notes.
posted by Anonymous at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2021

It must be the expense, I used to make jewellery a while ago, and never got to the handsaw/soldering level due to the cost.

I agree that Solange was not a light presence, I hope they become more comfortable as the series progresses.

WRT the Bee, Patrick seems to lighten up every series so there is hope!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:39 PM on April 15, 2021

The host is terrible. She needs to go. I'm hoping the judges will open up a bit as the show progresses, but even if they don't I can live with that.

My complaint with this show (as with a lot of these competitions) is that I want more close-ups of the work being done and of the finished products. I don't feel we really got a good look at the bangles, for example.

I suspect I'll be in for the whole series, as I'm curious about which precious gems they'll be given and how they'll be used.

Looking forward chatting about this with some fellow MeFites!
posted by sardonyx at 8:33 PM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

The host is -- I don't know. She has zero chemistry with the judges, who are both generally sullen, so it's hard to say. I think the concept of the bespoke piece is very interesting as a challenge, because there is a specific person they are making it for; I'm not sure what happens if the person chooses one the judges don't like.

Either the personalities coalesce over the series or not, I suppose we'll see.

Notes: if you are 26 and have been working in the same job since you are 21, this is not your third career, it is your first career. I thought the straight white male joke was funnyish. I have to get around to watching Sewing Bee. I mostly disliked all the pieces made, which was surprising to me.
posted by jeather at 5:49 PM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Notes: if you are 26 and have been working in the same job since you are 21, this is not your third career, it is your first career.

posted by Anonymous at 4:28 PM on April 20, 2021

there was no warmth there

I just watched this, and that's exactly it! The first seasons of Bake Off, Sewing Bee, and Throw Down were a little rough, but they exuded warmth and kindness and good humor and tons of support for the contestants. (Well, Sewing Bee had one pretty Solange-ish judge back then, but there were enough light elements to balance out her heaviness.) Did someone decide that atmosphere wasn't the entire key to the appeal of these shows?

Here even the editing decisions felt like they were going for something else. What was with the ridiculous slo-mo intro shots of people raising their heads and staring at the camera? And the plinth light thing was the opposite of supportive.
posted by trig at 3:15 AM on May 12, 2021

I do hope in later episodes they get to linger some on the more sensory parts of jewelry making. Solder glistening and running into a seam, metal going from rough to gleaming... hard shots to get, but so satisfying.

I would never have guessed solder for a word with different pronunciations across the pond.
posted by trig at 3:22 AM on May 12, 2021

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