Monday, October 22, 2012

Photographing Jewelry Tips and Tricks

What's your approach to photographing jewelry?

Please feel free to post in the comment section.

 When I first started photographing jewelry   I was such a novice... I quickly learned  a tripod is a must, using a light-box helps.  Learned quickly that "Tungsten" is the setting needed to photograph silver....Oh my so much to learn... And then I get lost in the detail  playing with all sorts of ideas to photograph jewelry..I love photographing the jewelry as much as finding those unique pieces that I sell...

Secret Garden Gems
People judge jewelry based on photographs that substitute for the real thing. In general, what they expect the photo to convey is:

  • Texture of the materials, whether metal or stone,
  • Color,
  • Degree of polish,
  • Quality of the craftsmanship, and
  • Fidelity to the original piece.
These qualities are important, but when it comes to photographing jewelry it boils down to controlling reflections. Cut stones and metals are highly reflective, which is why they are used in jewelry: they catch the eye, and that's the whole purpose of body adornment!

Lighting: The art of jewelry photography requires precise lighting technique. I don't recommend flash: continuous light is easier to control.

Keep your lighting soft. A small light tent or light dome is ideal.

Use back-lighting judiciously. Overdone, it will lead to distracting specular reflections. Do it right, and it shows the polish on surfaces. Back-light is a good choice for translucent minerals, making crystals, agates and gemstones glow from within!

A tabletop light-box (aka transparency viewer) is a great soft light source to make these materials glow! See the photos below for an example of light-box photography.

Equipment: If you're getting started, use whatever camera you have available. Even point-and-shoot compact cameras can make acceptable jewelry photos, but they have one major flaw: no auto-focus override, so precision focus is hit-or-miss.

A full macro photography set-up includes a camera, macro lens or other close-up photography accessories, tripod, some light modifiers, and lighting.
Precise focus is essential. Always focus on the surface closest to the camera. When using a camera without manual focus (i.e., compact, point-and-shoot), review digital photographs carefully. You may have to change the framing a little to "instruct" the auto-focus to focus on the plane you want it to.

Telephoto macro lenses (in the 70 - 100 mm range, 35mm equivalent) are preferred because of their greater working distance than shorter macro lenses. You'll appreciate having a bit more room to work, plus longer lenses are less likely to show up in the reflections of your jewelry piece.

Jewelry should be cleaned well before being photographed. Smudges and other imperfections take away from the beauty that good jewelry is supposed to embody.

Close-up photography reveals scratches and other imperfections in pieces that have been worn, such as vintage jewelry.

Studio photography accessories for photographing jewelry include modeling clay (to hold rings upright), alligator clamps for holding small light modifiers (reflectors and black cards), and a dress-maker's bust for hanging necklaces.

Earrings can be hung on two parallel fishing lines: an upper one to support the earrings, the other to prevent them from rotating. The line can be removed with editing software afterward.

It's very difficult to photograph necklaces and bracelets to show both detail and scale. Measure the length of strand jewelry and record the length in the digital file name, and in a caption if you are displaying them in an online store or auction.

Always use a tripod! No exceptions!...with the exception, of course, of one notable exception, which is to...

...try photographing jewelry with a flatbed scanner. The illumination is unexciting, but the clarity is excellent, and you can work quickly. This is an excellent option to document your jewelry collection for insurance purposes (see an example of a scanned jewelry photo below, upper right)!
Bali Jewelry


  1. Wow..somuch to get a good picture..but its true we want to see it ..details and all...thanks for sharing this Ronni..lots of great tips we cant get any where else..beautiful jewelry by the way....

    1. Thanks Brenda who would have thought about all the challenges of photographing jewelry

  2. This was so helpful. Thanks so much. I'm always trying new ways to take my pictures if my jewelry. Now I have some new ways to try and I know they will work because your photos are amazing. Thanks again.

  3. Great post. You know how some people have a "black" thumb when it comes to plants......well, that is me with

    1. Tracie Just keep playing try different backdrops, light settings etc I snap ten photos and hope for theone shot that I like :)

  4. Great information. I just had to share it to my website.

  5. Great information Ronni. I loved your comment about cleaning jewelry. I have an Ortery Photography box and you have no idea how many times I put a piece of jewelry in there and then, when I go to take the picture, I actually can still see what needs cleaning!

    1. Carol I keep that jewelers cloth right next to my light box...and windex to clean the glass I use as reflective base :) Now the cat hair that shows up now and again Argh how frustrating!!

  6. Super Blog!!! Thanks for sharing this info.

  7. thank you I need all thhelp I can get photographing my jewelry

  8. Thank you so much for your advices and tips Ronni! I need to learn so much about the photograpy! :)


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