Jewelry photography is a notoriously difficult process. The gems are highly-reflective, the pieces are commonly small, and colored stones don’t appear as vibrant in photos as it is in reality. For instance, emeralds can come out looking like tourmaline in photographs when its components react to the chromium in the film. The same misrepresentation of appearance can occur with tanzanite, which may come out like amethyst without proper photography techniques.
We’ve seen how these, along with other multifarious issues, have led to frustrations among jewelers This page is dedicated to you and the rest of the jewelers who are looking for easy and sensible jewelry photography tips, so you can devote ample time focusing on other important aspects of your business.
In this page, we’ll address the following, so read along, bookmark this page if you must, email it to yourself to be read later or conveniently jump to the section that interests you most.
Jewelry Photography: An Introduction
We live in a visual world. This is backed by the rising online sales, which are predicted to continue for the next 2 to 3 years. Although shoppers are embracing the convenience of online shopping, there is still room for improvement. For instance, 46% of shoppers stated that the inability to touch the products keep them from fully embracing this trend; 41% were concerned that the product might look different from the product in the photo.
These challenges highlight the importance of having clear and professional-looking product images – ones that don’t hide the product flaws behind blurry images but instead truly represent your brand. As such, jewelry photography is a critical aspect of any jewelry business. It’s the key to enticing potential customers and an effective strategy that will put you in the growing e-retail industry.
So, you have your jewelry inventory ready? Great! We can help you exist and join the rest of jewelers in today’s visual world where visual presentation consisting of quality product images are key. Your jewelry images are the first point of interaction and engagement. If it fails to attract your target customers within 7 to 8 seconds, consider those customers lost for good. Did you know that 67% of consumers favored quality images more than anything else while 93% believed that product images are a big factor when making purchasing decisions? These figures highlight the criticality of investing in clear, studio-quality jewelry images. It’s a strong statement that professional-looking product photography is not optional knowing that it influences your buyer’s decision. And now that you know the significant role it plays in your jewelry business, let’s get started!
First, gather the following equipment and props for jewelry photography.
1. Camera and lenses
2. A tripod
3. Lighting sources (make sure they are of similar color temperature)
4. A table where you can work on so that your lighting sources and your jewelry products are leveled.
5. Jewelry stands
6. Holding wax to make the ring stand up during the photo shoot
7. A lightbox or light tent to create soft lighting
8. A roll of pure white paper, foam boards, or fabric as reflectors and/or diffuser panel. Other alternatives include matte vinyl backdrops.
9. A grey card to achieve proper exposure
10. Other props you may need should you decide to be more creative for social media
What’s the Best Camera for Jewelry Photography?
This is probably one of the many questions frequently asked by jewelers. With so many options in the market, the act of choosing the most appropriate camera and lens may feel overwhelming at times. Contrary to what others believed, jewelry photography need not be expensive. You can buy the most advanced DSLR, but if you don’t have the skills and knowledge to back it up, it’s like pouring money down the drain.
The truth is, there’s no such thing as the best camera for jewelry photography because you can get amazing results using different camera equipment as long as you know the results you’re going for. Instead of looking for the best camera, you should focus on understanding your needs and choose the camera that meets those needs. Below are few of the camera equipment appropriate for photographing different pieces of jewelry.
Almost all DSLR cameras can do the job nowadays, but you can start with Nikon D3400. It’s an entry-level DSLR that (like other DSLRs) lets you adjust important camera settings like the aperture and shutter speed in accordance to your needs. D3400 is almost identical to its predecessor, the D3200, but the former is smaller and has a Snapbridge feature that allows for a Bluetooth-supported connection between your camera and the smart device; thereby, establishing a seamlessly automatic transfer of images.
Any camera that lets you tweak its camera settings can be a good choice for jewelry photography. The reason being is that when you photograph small pieces of jewelry, you have to shoot from a particular distance, usually 1 to 2 feet away from the jewelry product so you can capture the detail in full focus. To do this, you need a wider aperture, so that some areas of the product don’t appear blurry.
2. Canon EOS Rebel T5
3. Sony SLT-A58K
Sony’s Digital SLR Kit allows you to capture amazing details and spot-on enlargements with its 20.1MP sensor – perfect for close-up shots. It also features a translucent mirror technology that improves the performance of Autofocus. Like Canon, Sony’s SLT-A58K was designed to perform efficiently with its long-lasting battery life, impeccable quality, and flexibility.
1. Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
If you want a larger photograph of a ring, consider Nikon’s Micro-NIKKOR 105mm lens. It’s ideal for macro shooting as it delivers 105mm of reach. It also features a fast, maximum aperture at f2.8 and a reproduction ratio of 1:1. Another good thing about this lens is its Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization that further guarantees exceptional image results.
2. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens
This Canon’s high-performance macro lens enables a life-size image reproduction (1:1) with 8 aperture blades and a focus distance limiter that limits the focus range to improve the AF speed performance.
3. 18-55 mm Macro Lens
The 18-55 mm macro lens work perfectly for other jewelry pieces like bracelets, necklaces, and long earrings. For instance, Nikon’s AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm is an all-around lens that guarantees high-resolution images. Like the Micro-NIKKOR 105mm, it also features VR image stabilization, which reduces camera shake effects; thus, producing clear and sharper photographs.
These are just a few of the macro lenses that can deliver amazing results when photographing jewelry. There are plenty more options if you scour the market while keeping your subjects in mind. When choosing a macro lens, don’t forget to check the minimum focus distance. For example, the 18-55mm macro lens carries a minimum distance of 0.28m. It has been said that the smaller the distance, the more appropriate it is for jewelry photography.
1. Understand your camera functions and familiarize yourself with the different knobs and buttons on your camera. You should be able to figure out how to shift from auto mode to manual, and aperture mode without too many troubles.
2. Set the camera on aperture mode and adjust the aperture setting accordingly. Begin by setting the aperture mode to F14 and the ISO setting to 100, whatever the lowest setting is permissible to you.
The aperture is presented by f-stops. High f-stops, for instance, f22, has smaller openings than low f-stops, for instance, f8. You can capture your subject with sharper focus using the former while the latter will only focus some of the areas leaving the rest looking blurry. Adjust this setting based on your subject and the result you’re aiming for. Remember that when shooting in aperture mode, the shutter speed is set automatically.
Once you’re done tweaking these settings, take note of the shutter speed setting and test it by taking a photograph. If the jewelry image comes out darker and you observe inaccurate colors, switch to manual mode; otherwise, you’re done with camera set-ups.
3. When in manual mode, set the aperture again to f14 and the same shutter speed as you have noted earlier when on aperture mode. In this case, adjust the shutter speed as you deemed appropriate. For example, if you want the jewelry image brighter or darker, you can set it to lower or faster speed respectively.
4. Resume taking jewelry photos and re-adjust the above settings until you achieve your desired result. Aperture, ISO, and shutter speed are three critical components of good exposure. Understanding these fundamentals will come handy when you get to set up lighting techniques for your photo shoot.
Keep in mind that camera settings may vary depending on your working environment and your subject. Don’t be scared to experiment and try as many settings as possible until you find the right formula that suits your photography needs.
What’s the Best Jewelry Photography Lighting Setup?
There are four different lighting setup ideas you can apply on your next jewelry photo shoot.
1. Natural Lighting
The easiest and definitely the most accessible is natural lighting. You can position your table by the window where there’s ample source of sunlight or create an outdoor setup. Either way, it’s an effective approach to achieving an even distribution of light.
The downside to natural lighting is time. For instance, if you have an enormous inventory to photograph, you have to plan your schedule carefully. If you’ve heard about the ‘magic hour’, you’d know that the two best times to photograph are during the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset. During these hours, the sun is positioned low; thereby creating a diffused light, which is perfect for photographing jewelry. Avoid harsh midday sun as it may not lead to quality results. Additionally, consider the notion that some gemstones may appear more attractive during specific hours of the day. For instance, it has been said that Sapphire looks best under clear blue skies. The color changes according to weather conditions, and it will reflect in your photographs.
2 & 3. Back and Side Lighting
Backlighting is the process of lighting your jewelry from behind. This is an ideal setup for glass-like jewelry pieces as it can make the product look crystal-clear with a defined shape. On the other hand, side lighting provides your pieces with a three-dimensional effect. Such technique is appropriate for avoiding dull jewelry images.
4. Soft Lighting Using a Lightbox
A DIY lightbox is perhaps the most inexpensive approach; however, creating your own may be time-consuming, and not everybody has the luxury of time, especially as business owners. As such, we recommend an already manufactured lightbox to save you time. It’s also practical if you’re going to photograph jewelry regularly.
In setting up any of the above lighting techniques, you will need some of the materials mentioned at the outset. For instance, the foam core boards, fabric, or white paper can act as light reflectors and/or diffuser. Click the link below to know how to set up these lighting setup ideas.
The GemLightbox: Your All-in-One Jewelry Photography Solution
Click the photo below to watch what the JCK Las Vegas 2018 clients have to say about the GemLightbox.
Our experience working with thousands of jewelers has opened us to the idea of creating an all-in-one solution to simplify the entire process.
If you’re all for convenience, the GemLightbox offers a simplified approach to jewelry photography. It’s a plug-and-play jewelry photography lighting system that lets you take photos of your jewelry in just one click. The box is perfect for jewelers who don’t have the luxury of time preparing for a complete studio setup or a spacious workshop for a jewelry photo shoot. It also eliminates the complex process of identifying the correct light source. The GemLightbox, which is compatible with any smartphone, was designed with a perfect lighting environment for creating beautiful jewelry reflections, capturing shiny metals and the sharp details of faceted stones. If you’re into colored gemstones, you’ll notice that its consistent color temperature coming from the built-in lighting system captures truly color-perfect and properly-illuminated jewelry.
The GemLightbox continues to be updated with the best features designed to make jewelry photography easier for jewelry retailers. It’s equipped with a turntable that lets you record 360 jewelry product photography and video using only your smartphones in seconds! Check out the benefits you could be gaining by simply incorporating it into your virtual process.
Click the photo below to watch how we photograph jewelry pieces using the GemLightbox and an iPhone.
Both photos below were taken using the GemLightbox and a smartphone. There was no retouching done.
White background photography is a popular product photography approach in e-commerce and other online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, which recommend such to its online retailers. The reason being is that a white background doesn’t just make your jewelry images look professional, sophisticated, neat, and clean, it also helps in establishing credibility and trust with customers.
The following are recommended for photographing jewelry on a white background.
Gather all the materials you need such as:
1. Lightbox or tent – its illuminated translucent white surface is a good source of diffused, soft lighting
2. White background alternatives like a roll of pure white paper or a matte-finish vinyl backdrop among many others
3. Your camera and tripod
4. Your light source. Refer back to the different lighting setup ideas above
5. And a good post-production software for photo retouching
Bear in mind that no matter how religiously you follow all of the available photography techniques, there will be more cases where the images need to undergo post-production process to adjust the lighting or contrast, remove blemishes and/or straightened crooked angles.
How to Photograph Jewelry with iPhone and Other Smartphone Devices?
Who needs a DSLR in this day and age when smartphones are becoming more and more prevalent? In fact, by 2020, the number of smartphone users are predicted to climb up to 6.1 billion from 2.4 billion. But did you know that smartphones are no longer just a method of communication? Nowadays, smartphones are known to provide near-professional photography performance; hence, it didn’t come as a surprise when Flickr reported it (specifically iPhones) to be the primary source of photographs on their website.
Knowing this revolutionized way of taking jewelry photographs, it’s only appropriate that you learn how to photograph jewelry using your smartphone devices. After all, it’s the most practical way of doing photography.
1. Choose your device. Begin with what you have. Some of the best smartphones for jewelry photography are Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 7Plus, and Google Pixel 2.
2. Put your jewelry on the table as the elevation will let you capture the details of your piece in whichever angle you desire.
3. Use a tripod or any other image stabilization equipment to reduce camera shake. Consider the following tips to ensure that your jewelry images will not come out blurry or out of focus.
4. Decide on your light sources. You may refer back to the above lighting techniques. Never mix light sources with different color temperature as it will ruin the overall appearance of your jewelry images. Additionally, don’t use on-camera flash as it can produce glare and harsh reflection and shadows. On-camera flash will not produce quality images.
5. Check your device’s zoom capability. Always shoot 1 to 2m away from the jewelry and pay attention to the camera’s aperture settings. Don’t forget to use a good clip-on macro lens. Amazon has an enormous inventory of macro lens compatible with smartphones like the Xenvo iPhone Clarus 15x macro lens and AMIR macro lens with 10X magnification. You don’t have to restrict yourself to these macro lenses. Explore your options and choose the most suitable lens for your subject. Click the link below for a complete smartphone jewelry photography tips.
See sample images below. All photos were taken using the GemLightbox and an iPhone; no retouching was done.
A necklace is one of the most popular gifts given to loved ones during special occasion such as Valentine’s Day. Just like with other jewelry pieces, when your customer buys a necklace, they do so by associating an emotional value to it. This is a further justification of the notion that buying jewelry is an emotional process. Knowing this, it is critical that you present your piece in an emotive manner. Appealing to customer’s emotion can be done through the quality of your jewelry product images.
Observe the following tips when photographing a necklace.
1. Be cautious when choosing a lighting technique. Always go for soft lighting by using a lightbox or light tent. Diffused lighting establishes a dreamy appeal to your necklace while producing dramatic shadows.
2. Know the right background for your necklace. As mentioned, a white background is easy on the eyes; hence, online marketplaces favored it more than any other backgrounds. It’s also suitable for your website as it would create a very polished and organized appeal to your space. When the image background is as clean and uncluttered as a white background, your customer can easily examine your product and the intricate details that come with it. It’s a way of asking them to trust you because your jewelry images weren’t done to hide any product flaws.
An image background is one of the critical elements of a good product photography. It can increase your conversion rate when done correctly as the right background will complement the allure of your piece. For instance, a black background complements light-toned pieces of jewelry. Together, they create an appealing drama but a white background, while perfect for stones that were not cut perfectly, can instantly elevate your customer’s buying experience. This doesn’t mean that you can’t explore creatively. In fact, your social media branding can benefit from creatively photographed images. Just make sure that your main image – the first image you see for each product listing – looks professional and polished.
3. Use a necklace stand. Photographing your necklace on a stand can help the buyers visualize how it would look on them when worn. It shows how it falls and accentuates details that may not be easily perused when you just let it lay flat on the table.
4. Photograph different angles of your necklace to show how it looks when worn, its scale and size, other unique details, and variations. These angles will help bridge the gap between your potential customer and the screen. Read the full article below for more detailed necklace photography tips.
READ MORE: How to Photograph a Necklace
How to Photograph Earrings?
If you feel that your creative vision isn’t manifested in your visual presentation of earrings, read through as we provide you with five no-nonsense earring photography tips.
1. Gather all the materials as mentioned at the outset. Include earring stands based on the type of earrings you’re photographing.
2. Review your knowledge of the fundamentals of light and other jewelry photography lighting techniques to identify which approach suits your subject.
3. Segregate your earrings according to types. For instance, long earrings are the most difficult to photograph while studs are pretty straightforward.
4. When you photograph your earrings, photograph each pair one at a time as grouping them looks unorganized and may give an impression that you’re in a hurry and don’t take your business seriously.
5. Choose an earring stand that’s appropriate to your earrings. For instance, while you can just let stud earrings lay flat on the table, this shouldn’t be the case with dangling earrings. Avoid hanging long earrings on teacups and other props that may distract your potential customer.
6. Don’t forget to give your customers a size of reference, so they know how big, small, or long the earrings are. You can use a live model, although there are a few limitations to it. For example, your model’s hair and makeup may distract the customers. For reference points, other jewelers use coins, but remember that it may not always help at all times, especially if you’re catering to international buyers due to the differences in currency. Click the link below for a complete guide on earring photography.
The earrings below were photographed using the GemLightbox and a smartphone.
READ MORE: Detailed Tips on How To Photograph Earrings
How to Photograph a Ring?
Ring photography may be difficult not only for beginners but also for experienced jewelers. This is because rings are small and often, with unique, intricate design that requires focus during a photo shoot. In this section, you’ll learn how to photograph a ring that will make your potential customers engage and interact with you.
The five essential ring photography tips are as follows. Don’t forget to click the link below for a complete and elaborate discussion of the techniques.
1. Clean your ring before photographing it. The piece should be spotless and shiny as any blemish can be reflected in the photo. In addition, wiping your ring with a clean cloth and using gloves when holding it can reduce the time to be spent in the post-production stage.
2. Gather all the equipment and materials as mentioned at the outset. This time, include wax and putty to hold your ring up for a more stylish and professional presentation. Should you decide to photograph your ring using a smartphone, click here for simple but effective smartphone jewelry photography tips.
3. Understand how every equipment and each material can work best to produce studio-quality ring images. For instance, determine the kind of macro lens appropriate for ring photography and remember to check the minimum distance focus.
For holding your ring up, a holding wax and other alternatives such as Elmer’s putty and dental wax are a must. Some of these alternatives can easily be found in craft stores near you.
4. Shoot on manual focus and control the aperture settings and the depth of field. Rings require impeccable accuracy in terms of camera settings to ensure that the entire subject is captured with sharp focus. Consider these points when adjusting your camera’s aperture setting
5. Polish your final image using Photoshop or other software you’re most comfortable with. You can also seek assistance from professional jewelry photo retouchers online. It’s time-efficient and rids you of the post-production stress most of the time.
Check out some of the sample images below. All photos were taken using the GemLightbox and a smartphone. No retouching was done.
If you’re struggling with silver jewelry photography, don’t stress. Silver pieces, like the others, require in-depth photography skills and knowledge and constant practice. In photographing silver jewelry, understand that a one-size-fits-all photography technique will not produce high-quality images.
Do you feel that hiring a professional jewelry photographer is too expensive? Is it difficult to make both of your schedules match? Don’t worry! Taking attractive photos of silver jewelry pieces is made possible with the tips listed below.
1. Make sure you have all the materials and equipment. Don’t forget to pull out your grey card. This is key in ensuring proper exposure.
2. Use natural lighting during the photo shoot. In the event that natural lighting isn’t accessible, use your lightbox and position two light sources on opposite sides for a balanced light distribution and to prevent harsh shadows. Ditch your light sources if you’re using your GemLightbox. A separate lighting system isn’t necessary.
3. Use a grey card not only to add contrast but more so, to capture the accurate colors of your silver jewelry. Its neutral tone will serve as a reference point when adjusting the exposure and white-balance settings of your camera. Grey cards can be purchased from any photography tool shops. Alternatively, be resourceful by creating your own grey card from non-reflective, grey-colored paper. Click the link below to know how to use the grey card for the photo shoot.
Top Pearl Photography Tips to Follow
Click the photo below to watch how we photograph pearls using the GemLightbox and a smartphone.
Pearls are a unique piece of beauty. Its complex process of production begins from living organisms like oysters. When an irritant works its way inside the oysters, the latter will react by building defenses commonly known as nacre. The oyster will continue to release translucent layers of nacre to cover the irritant until a pearl is formed. Natural pearls take years to develop; hence, it’s prohibitively expensive and rare. The rarity of natural pearls has driven other alternatives of production. For instance, pearl farming has birthed cultured pearls in which the production process is the same as that of natural pearls except for the fact that a large nucleus is inserted to irritate the oyster in order for it to release a nacre.
Photographing pearls can be a bit overwhelming for the inexperienced photographer/jeweler, especially given its reflective properties. In addition, its natural luster may appear elusive in photos. The following tips are designed to help you capture pearl images that stand out.
1. Use one light source only and position it 1.5 to 2m above your subject. This will give the pearls a more defined shape and dimension and easy control of reflections. Avoid using multiple lights. The pearls are already reflective on its own; overdoing lights may distort its shape and misrepresent the appearance of the product.
2. Use your lightbox and do your photo shoot in a dark room. Lightbox is a good source of soft lighting while its translucent surface can act as a light diffuser, which helps in eliminating glare and harsh shadows.
A dark room is another technique for adding contrast. The dark reflection of light will produce soft, dark shadows that can accentuate the natural luster of pearls. Choose a lightbox with the front covering so you can easily control the scope of dark shadows appropriate for your subject.
3. Create double layers of diffusion using alternative materials like a corrugated plastic sheet or white fabric.
4. While you can hire a professional photographer to help you style your pearls for the photo shoot, this process can be cost-efficient if you’ll learn to style it yourself using your creative imagination and resourcefulness. For instance, you can browse popular jewelry magazines and copy the ways big brands display their pieces. If you want to photograph your pearls in a perfect circle position, follow the step discussed in this article. Sometimes, all you have to do is look around your house to find a suitable prop.
5. Perfect your pearl product images through necessary post-production services. You can scour the internet for a huge collection of Photoshop tutorials.
READ MORE: Pearl Photography Tips: A Step-by-Step Guide
Jewelry Photography Tips for Social Media
Click the photo below to watch the video and see how we create social media ready images using the GemLightbox.
The number of social media users was predicted to climb to more than 2.8 billion in 2017. This was not a surprise considering the growing number of smartphone users globally. Digital connectivity has been improving and drastically changing the lives of people. Some of these changes include the way we consume information and the way we do our shopping activities.
Your customers live in a visual world. They’re easily drawn to beautiful designs and images online. In fact, 93% of people believed that visuals are one of the most influential components in making a buying decision. Do you know that you only have 7 to 8 seconds to attract them to your website and/or online store to check your brand? This statement stresses the importance of studio-quality jewelry product images on your social media platforms. It’s your visual way of saying, ‘you can trust our brand.’
Below are some of the compelling jewelry photography tips for your social media pages.
1. Follow the rule of thirds.
The Rule of Thirds is one of the most basic photography tips for producing attractive images. In this approach, you frame your shots horizontally while vertically breaking it down into thirds, giving you a total of nine parts. You can create this grid in your head. Once you’re all set, put the focus point along one of these intersections.
This process of framing is said to establish a natural interaction between your customers or viewers and your product image.
2. Capture different angles and don’t be afraid to introduce a new angle to your potential customers. Sometimes, thinking creatively can reinvigorate the look of your jewelry products.
3. Take in-context photos to help your potential customers understand how your product can fit into their lifestyle. Tell a story through images and make them realize that they need your product, so they’d be inclined to buy it.
4. Crop creatively. Don’t just crop for the sake of making your jewelry photo fit into the format. Think out of the box and be open to radical cropping. This can make your jewelry products look more interesting.
5. Spread it like wildfire. Promote, promote, promote!
Click the link below for a more detailed discussion of the social media photography tips outlined above.
What is Photo Retouching?
Photo retouching is one of the services encompassing the post-production stage. It is a process of editing images with a greater focus on the enhancement and/or restoration of both printed and digital photographs. Photo retouching is inclusive of the following:
1. Removing blemishes
2. Clipping onto a white background
3. Straightening and aligning
4. Adjusting the lighting and contrasts
5. Eliminating harsh or unwanted shadows and reflections
6. Retouching to studio-quality
Photographing jewelry can be frustrating at times, especially when you discover that flaws can’t just be eliminated in just one click, even after following all the techniques available on the internet or purchasing all the necessary equipment. For instance, the biggest problem you could face when shooting with a DSLR camera is a blurry back shank; hence, most photos online will have the back shank retouched. Click the link below for a step-by-step Photoshop tutorial on basic jewelry retouching.
Summary and Recommendation
Jewelry photography will always be a challenging process, but challenging doesn’t mean it’s not possible. In all, you must know why you’re photographing your jewelry and the action plan to get the results you desire. Think of the following:
1. Find out why you’re doing photography in the first place.
2. Depending on your reason, pick your equipment. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
3. Post-production is recommended for any photographs online and printed, especially for B2C. The case for B2B is quite different, although, a lot have started to embrace the process once they see the results. B2B normally don’t mind having less consistency; however, from our experience working with thousands of jewelers and brands, all successful businesses end up wanting consistency and revising all their old images. It’s always better to get it right from the start.
And lastly, always practice. Constant practice and a brave heart will set yourself on the right path, so get your camera ready and sparkle on!