‘It was an amazing feeling’: West Sussex jeweller Hugo talks about winning BBC Two’s All That Glitters

Jeweller Hugo Johnson from Haywards Heath has talked about his surprise at winning the first series of BBC Two’s All That Glitters.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 12:48 pm
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 1:19 pm

The nail-biting final of the jewellery making contest was aired at 8pm last Tuesday (May 18) and saw the talented 24-year-old take home the trophy.

Hugo had to pull out all the stops to compete against the other two finalists Daniel Musselwhite and Tamara Gomez, and impress the show’s judges Shaun Leane and Solange Azagury-Partridge.

“It was definitely nerve-racking because if anything had gone wrong in that final that was your chances gone,” said Hugo, who works at RTFJ in Wivelsfield.

Hugo Johnson, right, with Richard Talman at RTFJ in Wivelsfield. Picture: Steve Robards

“And those few people in the final, they were there for the same reason and they were really trying to do their best as well,” he added.

In the final episode the three jewellers had to make a pair of pearl earrings, as well as a maang tikka bridal headpiece for a client’s Indian wedding.

Hugo said he found the headpiece to be the most difficult task of the episode.

“I was swimming in new waters there,” he said, adding that he had never made an Indian headpiece before and that it was challenging to turn his design into something physical.

Hugo Johnson at RTFJ. Picture: Steve Robards

“A lot of the time when you design something it doesn’t always translate the same way when you begin to make it,” said Hugo.

He said he had to adapt things as he went along and he even had to work out a quick redesign after ‘a little slip up’ with the stone he had originally planned to use at the top of his headpiece.

“As I was pushing down to secure the stone in the setting it chipped one of the corners,” Hugo said, adding that he felt his stomach sink as he realised there was no way to hide the mistake.

“I did get a little bit of a fright but you’ve got to find these quick solutions,” he said.

So thinking on his feet, Hugo found a way to adapt the design and keep its unique beauty.

He was overjoyed later when the client picked his headpiece for her wedding.

“This is something being made for a woman’s wedding day, which is a moment in her life she’s going to remember always,” said Hugo.

“To have her pick my headpiece was a beautiful moment.”

Hugo said he could not believe it when he was crowned the winner of All That Glitters.

“I was shocked because it wasn’t a case of smooth sailing throughout the whole process,” he said.

Hugo said he had ‘a lot of ups and downs’ but that he always tried to take on board the advice from the judges.

“I feel like that shone through in the last episode, so it was an amazing feeling getting that recognised,” he said.

Hugo thanked his family for their support as well as Richard Talman from RTFJ in Morehouse Business Centre, Wivelsfield.

“I’m very thankful for what’s he’s done for me,” said Hugo, adding that Richard has guided him as a jeweller since he was 15 years old.

Hugo did work experience at RTFJ in 2011 before he took a year’s foundation programme at The Goldsmiths’ Centre in London.

He focused on diamond mounting and returned to RTFJ, completing his five-year apprenticeship in 2018.

Hugo said he now has some ‘big things’ planned for the future and that ‘the hard work has only just started’.

“I’m going to keep pushing my creativity as far as I can,” Hugo said, adding that he wants to produce as much unique high quality work as he can.

“I’ve got a lot of ideas I want to create,” he added.

“I’ve got a big range coming up very soon that we’re about to launch, and that will be linked through the RTFJ website.”

In addition to All The Glitters, Hugo recently won the inter-trade Craft and Design Council competition for small works, getting a silver for a miniature model violin, bow and stand.

To see some of his 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.

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.

Visit www.rtfj.co.uk to find out more.

All That Glitters is available now on BBC iPlayer.