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How to Make Jewelry Sparkle in Photos

Jewelry photography tips - how to make jewelry sparkle in photos
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How do you make jewelry sparkle in photos, in the absence of motion?

The beauty of diamonds lies in their sparkle. Your customers are enamored by this breathtaking gem because of the spectacular light show it produces every time it’s viewed in motion. This mesmerizing effect makes sparkle one of the most sought-after requirements when trading, but while demonstrating sparkly diamonds can be done easily in brick-and-mortar stores, this is not the case when trying to entice customers online.

Making jewelry sparkle in photos is perhaps the ultimate challenge for jewelers. As mentioned above, motion is one of the contributing elements of scintillation; hence, photographing a still glass-like and prismatic stone could be an extremely disappointing experience for others. Don’t despair, though. Taking jewelry photos can be a fulfilling journey if you get every composition right, so let’s get started!

What Makes Diamonds Sparkle: The Scintillation Process

How to make jewelry sparkle in photos

Facet alignment, cut, and other proportions matter to get proper internal reflection and refraction of light. When the light enters the diamond, it gets partitioned as it travels through the lattice while splitting into multiple beams. These beams are then internally reflected and refracted out of the diamond. The light that exits the diamond may reach the viewer’s eye, which creates several illumination effects.

The Three Common Illumination Effects

1. Brilliance refers to the ability of the diamond or other stones to return light to the eyes of the viewers which produces the crown’s illuminating effect.

2. Fire is produced when the light is dispersed and broken down into rainbow-like colors perceivable by the viewers.

3. Scintillation is created when the diamonds, the viewers, and/or other sources of illumination move thereby, producing either a colored or colorless flash of lights.

“The allure and beauty of a particular diamond depends more on cut than anything else.”

Gemological Institute of America

Diamond Facets and Scintillation

Although facets help in elevating the quality of the diamond, cutting it in a way that creates more facets doesn’t necessarily guarantee a more appealing stone. The reason lies in the size of the virtual facet. A diamond may have more facets than its actual number of facet cuts.

This phenomenon happens when the light entering the diamond is partitioned into multiple beams. The higher the number of virtual facets, the more appealing the stone becomes. This number is largely dependent on the quality of actual facets and the number of times the light is partitioned as it bounces off in the stone.

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(a) actual facets; (b) virtual facets upon initial refraction; (c) virtual facets upon initial and secondary refraction – face-up standard round brilliant cut diamond

Now that you know how jewelry sparkles, and after you’ve made sure that you got all elements sourced correctly, it’s time to breathe life into these illumination effects. Ensuring that the allure of your diamonds is manifested in the photographs could be a saving grace in the digital shopping arena.

That is because the lack of touch in online retail could create concerns over the quality of your jewelry, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot simulate an in-store buying experience and vibe. Check out the essential tips below and discover how it works for you the next time you’re on your jewelry photoshoot.

Jewelry Photography Tips: How to Make Jewelry Sparkle in Photos

1. Polish your diamonds thoroughly before the photo shoot

Perhaps the most basic but definitely often forgotten—cleaning your diamonds properly.

Before you click the camera, make sure your diamond piece is without the slightest speck of dirt like dust, stains, or fingerprints. Use a microfiber cloth when cleaning them and always wear a pair of gloves when holding them. This will avoid the transfer of oil from your finger to the diamond.

2. Balance between soft light and hard light

How to make jewelry sparkle in photos

On a sunny day, you’ll notice that your diamonds sparkle beautifully, highlighting a more vibrant fire illumination effect; however, this fire will disappear on a cloudy day. With the latter’s environment, the diamond will look dull and flat.

When you photograph a diamond in your studio, it’s a must to reproduce these two lighting environments. The reason is that soft lighting, a light source positioned closer to the subject, is ideal for producing soft shadows but it doesn’t create the illumination effect you’re after. Scintillation, fire, and brilliance are produced through direct and hard lighting setup or a light source that is positioned farther away from the subject.

The mixture of these two lighting setups doesn’t only produce a dispersion of lights leading to scintillation; it also brings drama to the jewelry image while capturing the finest colors of the stones. As such, you must be resourceful and experimentative to combine both lighting conditions perfectly.

3. Instead of using on-camera flash, use a separate light source like multiple LEDs in one fixture, and position it near your camera

How to make jewelry sparkle in photos

On-camera flash is a convenient source of direct, hard light but it will not give you the most desirable result. On-camera flash is extremely bright for the subject, which when used, can produce unappealing harsh shadows and glare aside from the fact that it may not always illuminate the subject properly.

As a substitute, it’s recommended to use a separate light source like a bare bulb or other special light bulbs. Position this light at nearly the same location as your camera, directly illuminating the face of the diamond. When implemented impeccably, hard lighting can provide you with the most attractive illumination effects.

4. Avoid mixing different light sources

How to make jewelry sparkle in photos

Make sure to turn off other light sources in the studio like overhead lights and lamps as they could ruin the color of your diamonds and other gems. If you’re using multiple light sources, opt for the ones with uniform color temperature, which refers to the coolness (5000K and over) or warmth (2700-3000K) of the light, and leave the white balance settings on auto-mode.

5. Sparkler lights can add glitter to your diamonds

Sparkler light

Sparkler lights can produce jewelry images with a three-dimensional effect. Always go for 5000K color temperature for an accurate white balance – one that doesn’t require color correction when you reach the post-production process; hence, a reduced post-production stage.

Amazon has an enormous inventory of sparkler lights. Check out their listings and look for the one that’s most appropriate for your subject. This can make your jewelry products stand out by adding glitter and shine to them.

6. Find a lightbox with built-in sparklers

The GemLightbox & Turntable set
The GemLightbox with Sparkles™

Because of the demand in the market and the continuously booming e-commerce sales, technological innovations encapsulating the jewelry industry abound. For instance, the GemLightbox, the world’s first all-in-one jewelry photography lightbox, is a specialized solution designed to eliminate most of the jewelry photography challenges. For instance, instead of reproducing a perfect mixture of soft and hard lighting environments to achieve sparkles, it created a pure white soft lighting environment with built-in sparklers.

Sparkles™, a revolutionary feature of the box, is a custom-formulated set of LED bulbs installed within the GemLightbox. Its main function is to bring sparkles to your diamonds and other precious stones without blinding the facets or distorting the true colors of the subjects. It’s a technology that lets you bring out the fire in your gems in just one click. Click here to know more if this is a solution that suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you take good pictures of jewelry?

To take good pictures of jewelry, make sure that your jewelry pieces are lit evenly and consistently. Take a lot of test photos as you experiment with different camera settings that are appropriate for the specific piece you’re photographing.

What are the best camera settings for photographing jewelry?

Jewelry photography is not a one-size-fits-all process. Your camera settings vary depending on the type of jewelry you’re photographing. Generally, you’d want the shutter speed to be as fast as possible and the ISO, to the lowest possible.

What is the best lighting for jewelry photography?

The best lighting for jewelry photography is soft, diffused lighting.

How do you make the jewelry stand out in pictures?

Ensure that your pictures are properly lit and use a white background to highlight the details of your piece and make colored gemstones pop.

Watch the GemLightbox video below as we demonstrate how to use Sparkles™ to add additional sparkles and facets to your gemstones and diamonds.

Below: A diamond ring photographed using the GemLightbox

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