All That Glitters' Scottish contestant, Emma White, tells us about appearing on the BBC jewellery design series
“At the end of the day, it’s called All That Glitters, not All That Dully Shines,” says Emma White, 45, as she polishes up her creation on the first episode of this jewellery competition. This designer is the only Scottish contestant of eight in the second season of this popular BBC Two series, which aims to discover Britain’s next top jewellery star.
Although White is now based in Leeds, she was born in Stirling, grew up in Kinross, and graduated with first class honours in Jewellery and Metal Design from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, back in 1998.
In the first of her TV challenges, she had to make a single earring and a nameplate necklace, under the watchful eye of comedian and presenter Katherine Ryan and judges Dinny Hall and Shaun Leane.
The designs went down extremely well. “Beautifully done,” said Hall, when it came to her silver and cabochon earring.
We found out more about this promising contestant.
What are your inspirations and does your Scottish background inform them?
Scottish people are great storytellers. We are a family of bletherers and love to laugh and tell stories. My jewellery is inspired by storytelling, of other people’s stories or my own and the tales that we weave as we go through life. Sometimes that is literal, where I stamp teeny tiny letters into metal and create tangles of silver or gold, or sometimes I work with imagery which has depth and meaning to me, but there’s always a story to be told.
What are your favourite materials?
I love to work with silver and 18 carat gold, and rubies and diamonds excite me. I love to use small diamonds as accents in pieces, and when I get to work with larger stones I get butterflies of excitement.
What’s the day job?
I have been teaching for about 18 years, originally at Bradford College and now I own and run my own jewellery school, teaching hobbyists to design and make through a weekly programme, or project-based weekend sessions. I love to teach, it makes me a better jeweller and being a practising jeweller makes me a better teacher. It’s a symbiotic relationship and I love to pass on my skills and enthusiasm to others. It brings much joy, both to teacher and learner. It’s a wonderful thing.
How did you end up on the programme?
I was a huge fan of the first series, it was such a delight to watch at a time when everything fun had stopped, because of the pandemic. Lockdown eased just as the final aired, so I hosted a party for my students to watch the final. We cancelled our first class back in the workshop, and instead wore sparkles, drank bubbles and watched it together. It was a great night. Subsequently, I had a few people try to persuade me to apply, but I already knew I was going to go for it anyway. There was quite an involved application procedure, and, as I went though it, I was delighted to get through each stage. Being told I was through to the show itself was an incredible moment that I’ll never forget.
I was bursting with adrenaline during the challenges. It was truly the most terrifying and yet the most wonderful experience of my life, but I wasn’t actually nervous in front of the camera as such. It was the pressure of the stopwatch that scared me.
Did you make any friends?
The atmosphere was brilliant, we got on really well and although it was a competition, it felt very supportive. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot. I particularly gelled with David. Since finishing filming we have recorded a podcast called Little Gems on Jewellery and Life where we witter about life as a creative, what inspires us and what we are up to. It’s chatty and light and each week over the course of All That Glitters we will be talking about each episode after it airs. (A new episode is released every Thursday at 9am on all the usual podcast channels)
Were there disasters or triumphs along the way?
Yes I had terrible, awful disasters and huge triumphs.Taking part in a show like ATG is an amazing experience full of highs and lows. I’m quite a risk taker so I think I will bring my fair share of drama to the show. You’ll have to watch to find out more.
What did your three children and three stepchildren have to say about you being famous?
Ha ha, I’m not sure I’ll qualify as ‘famous’ but the kids were really excited about seeing me on TV. They pop up in the introduction so they were looking forward to that too.
What does the future hold for your work?
I have five new collections to launch over the next couple of months. The biggest and the most unexpected benefit of taking part was that I took time out to focus on designing, to think about who I am and what I want to put out into the world. My creativity took centre stage, away from the pressures of making orders and teaching and looking after a young family, and I rediscovered my own voice as a designer and as a storyteller. I will never make ordinary jewellery again and for that, I am eternally grateful.
All That Glitters, Thursdays, BBC Two, 9pm, also available on BBC iPlayer