West Sussex jeweller Hugo in final of BBC Two’s All That Glitters tonight
A young jeweller from West Sussex is through to the final of BBC Two’s All That Glitters, which airs tonight (May 18).
Hugo Johnson, 24, who works at RTFJ in Wivelsfield and lives in Haywards Heath, is a contestant in the TV competition, which aims to find Britain’s best jeweller.
The six-episode series is hosted by Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan and has been airing every Tuesday at 8pm.
Participants are set two jewellery making challenges each week – ‘the bestseller’ and ‘the bespoke’ – and have to prepare their pieces in a special workshop at Birmingham School of Jewellery.
“It’s been a big learning curve for me,” said Hugo, adding that the experience has pushed him to improve his skills further.
“It’s something I’m glad I took part in.”
Update: Hugo has been crowned the winner of All That Glitters. Find out more here.
The contestants’ work has to be designed and finished within a strict time limit and is judged afterwards by star jewellers Solange Azagury-Partridge and Shaun Leane.
Hugo received some positive feedback in the second episode.
“The most rewarding piece I’ve done so far was in that bespoke challenge,” he said.
The brief was to make a ‘sweetheart brooch’ for a man whose engineering officer wife was being deployed on a tour of duty.
“They wanted us to incorporate his love of music,” said Hugo, adding that the couple had a deep connection with the Faulkland Islands and penguins.
So Hugo incorporated a treble clef and a penguin into his design, winning praise from the judges and the client who chose the brooch for his wife.
The piece also won Hugo Jeweller of the Week, which he has now won twice, a title awarded to one contestant per episode while another is cut from the show.
“The most challenging thing so far was definitely episode three,” he said, adding that the most recent broadcast required him to make a bib necklace for drag queen Amrou.
Hugo said that using copper, leather and denim for a large design pushed him out of his comfort zone.
“I don’t really use alternative materials because RTFJ is a fine jewellers,” he said, adding that they usually use diamonds, gemstones, platinum, palladium and gold.
But, he said, the brief specified that makers use an alternative material with metal and he was happy with the end result.
Hugo has been passionate about jewellery from a young age, doing work experience at RTFJ in 2011 before taking a year’s foundation programme at The Goldsmiths’ Centre in London.
He decided to focus on diamond mounting and returned to RTFJ, completing his five-year apprenticeship in 2018.
Hugo said most of the items made at RTFJ are bespoke pieces where the jewellers talk to a customer about creating a one-of-a-kind item, including brooches, pendants, earrings and engagement rings.
“Basically, if someone can think of something we can make it,” he said.
Hugo added that the best part of his job is seeing the expression on a client’s face when they receive a unique piece of jewellery.
“It’s passing on something you’ve created that you know they’re going to treasure,” he said.
To see some of Hugo’s work visit his Instagram page.
RTFJ is based at Morehouse Business Centre, Ditchling Road, Wivelsfield, and is open now with Richard Talman and Hugo working on jewellery.
Visit www.rtfj.co.uk to find out more.
All That Glitters is available now on BBC iPlayer.