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How to Photograph Jewelry: An In-Depth Guide

Successfully selling a product relies heavily on good product photography. If you can’t showcase your product well, it will prove difficult to shift. Jewelry photos are infamously difficult to capture. Beautiful jewelry can look terrible if you use the wrong light, camera or lens.

Even hours of trial and error might not be enough if you don’t know what you’re doing. This page outlines the fundamentals of how to photograph jewelry. We’ll walk you through lighting setup, post processing and everything in between to help you make sure you get the best final image of your product.

The better you capture the beauty of your jewelry, the easier it will be to sell! We also touch on how to take great jewelry photographs at home.

how to photograph jewelry

How to photograph jewelry at home

Lighting

This is perhaps the most important element of any image, regardless of your subject. When it comes to photographing jewelry, you’ll have myriad challenges with shadows and reflection. Each jewelry product comes with its own unique set of curves and reflective surfaces. You’ll have to spend some time getting used to the piece in question.

It’s important to use plenty of light when capturing jewelry images. Natural light that’s diffused and soft can work well, but is far from practical in many indoor settings.

A bright, large softbox is the best way to go when shooting jewelry indoors. They keep everything brightly lit without throwing up crazy reflections. The keywords to remember are soft and indirect. Direct light is your enemy with jewelry photography.

If you’re on a budget, a bare bulb shielded by a sheet of white paper can be a great source of soft, indirect light.

The position of your lighting setup will be determined by the jewelry piece in question and the number of light sources you’re using. Experiment with positioning your light overhead and directly to the side until you find the appropriate fit for your product.

Necklaces Vs Rings

Your approach to your photos and setup will change depending on whether you’re capturing a necklace, a ring or a different piece altogether. The reflections, shadows and composition all change each time.

Using a reflector and a black or white card will help keep unwanted reflections at bay. These can be bought professionally or made at home with sheets of card and tin foil. A closely considered home setup can still produce excellent shots.

If you’ve got great lighting, a good tripod and decent reflectors, it’s even possible to get great photos with an iPhone at home! Using an appropriate background is also important. A simple, plain background is best.

Composition

When you photograph jewelry, it’s important to know how best to showcase your product. The position of your jewelry in the frame and your camera’s angle are the main things to consider.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you photographing a single piece or multiple pieces?
  • Are there particular colors you would like to draw focus to?
  • Which areas of your jewelry are the brightest and most eye-catching?
  • Which shapes and lines for the product are the most important to capture?

The answers to these questions will determine your approach to composition. For single pieces, it’s probably best to keep it simple and center your ring or necklace in the frame. For multiple pieces, following the rule of thirds will help you.

Consider your image as consisting of nine separate sections. Experiment with how your subject is balanced across these sections to produce a stunning photo. The angle of your camera will change the shapes and lines captured in your photo. An overhead shot might capture the overall shape of a piece but lack the depth you need.

A side-on shot might capture some interesting lines, but lose the overall impression of the piece. Experiment with your camera angle until you have the perfect shot for your product.

A good post production tip is to use the “Unsharp Mask” feature in photoshop. This can sharpen up your image when you need that extra boost.

Choosing a Background

jewelry sparkle

A loud, busy background is the last thing you want for this kind of photography. Rings and necklaces are full of intricate details that take a lot of work to capture properly. A loud background will only distract from this. Simple, block colors are usually best. Even a sheet of paper can do the trick.

Consider the colour palette of your pieces and choose a tone that will compliment it well. Would a white background work, or would something darker be better? You want your photography to celebrate your subject, so it’s important to pick a background that supports your work rather than distracts from it.

How to Make Jewelry Sparkle

If you get your setup perfect, it will be much easier to capture a natural sparkle in your pieces. Use our tips above for lighting, background and composition to get the image you’re looking for. Thoroughly cleaning each product before your shoot will also work.

A non-abrasive, cleansing solution can be used to get your jewelry photography ready. A little buffing with a microfiber cloth can really boost your images. The last thing you want in post production is to find smudges and smears across a necklace or ring. For some images, a white background may blow out the sparkle in your image.

Consider these tips on a case by case basis.

Which Camera is Best for Jewelry Photography?

There’s plenty to consider before buying a new camera for jewelry photography. In many ways, your lighting and camera lens are far more important. However, a larger, more versatile camera will give you the flexibility to play around with multiple lenses. A more adaptable model will also give you more freedom to play around in the studio.

For something as tricky as photographing jewelry, increased wiggle room can be a godsend.

Canon EOS 70D DSLR

It’s not the only option out there, but we think this is a great camera for versatile jewelry images. The EOS 70D is compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses, which should be more than enough to produce stunning product photography.

The intelligent auto mode, powerful manual control mode and smart viewfinder make this a handy piece of kit.

Which Lenses Are Best for Jewelry Photography?

The nature of this kind of photography means you should be using a macro lens. This will be far more forgiving when getting up close and personal to your subject. Some options are a bit on the pricey side, but if you’re photographing jewelry, they’re practically essential.

Luckily, there’s plenty of good macro products out there. Just make sure the lens you’re considering is compatible with your sensor and camera.

Canon EF 100mm

This is a stunning macro lens for close-up product photography. The inner-focusing system and full-manual settings give you ultimate control over your images. One thing you’ll need to consider for this type of photography is image blur. The image stabilization that comes with this model should help out a great deal.

Panasonic LUMIX G MACRO LENS, 30MM

If you’re working on a budget, this is a great option. This is a perfectly capable lens, especially considering the price point. The optical image stabilization and excellent close-up focus will elevate your jewelry photography. This model is particularly good at producing beautiful bokeh shots.

Camera Settings

There’s plenty to tinker with when getting great product photos of jewelry. The intricate details of rings and necklaces can make it difficult to find the appropriate depth of field. Another challenge, and one of the most important things to consider in this genre of photography, is your white balance.

jewelry photographs

White Balance

One of the most common challenges with jewelry photography is the images coming out with an orange hue. This is caused by the white balance setting on the camera fighting against natural and artificial light. As a general rule, daylight comes with a naturally blue hue and light from bulbs appears as orange.

The white balance setting on a camera is designed to “guess” the correct color when capturing a photograph. If it’s grappling with both natural and artificial light, excessively blue or orange product images are the result. It’s best to set your white balance manually to get the image right.

Experiment with your camera settings until you’re happy with the image.

Focus

Getting the right focus for shooting this kind of product can be tricky, especially when you’re not using a macro lens. No matter what equipment you’re using, you should get as close as you can to your subject while maintaining focus. Using enough light will go a long way here.

Once you’ve got at least one good photo with your whole product in focus, feel free to play around with focusing in on one spot in particular.

Aperture

If you want more control over the focus for your photos, tweaking the aperture will help you. The higher your aperture number, the more of your subject will be in focus. This will let in less light, however, so it’s necessary to experiment and find a good compromise for each photo.

ISO

Photographing jewelry demands a bright lighting setup. As you’ll be working with a lot of light in your studio, it’s best to set your ISO to a lower setting. This makes your equipment less sensitive to light and will likely aid the look of your image.

More Recommended Accessories

Using the right kit will make shooting a whole lot easier. You want your images to look great, so it’s important to use the right tools. Consider the following accessories when working:

  • A tripod. Camera shake is one of your biggest enemies for this kind of work. Using a tripod will keep your camera steady and eliminate unwanted blur and noise.
  • A Lightbox. Lighting is probably the most important factor for any kind of photography. Use a lightbox to get soft, indirect light for your images.
  • A remote shutter release. To further reduce the risk of noise in your images, use a remote control to take the shot.
  • A stable surface like a table. It’s a simple one, but it’s important. A flat, steady surface for your jewelry is essential for crisp images.
  • Firm paper or foam boards. You can use these to block unwanted reflections from ruining your work.
  • Holders and props. These can prop your necklace or ring upright for the perfect composition.

Conclusion

It can be hard to find the desired look when capturing a necklace or similar jewelry. Photographing any subject comes with its own set of challenges. We hope you’re able to use the tips on this page to improve your work. If you only remember two words from this article, let them be lighting and macro.

Eliminating shadows and reflection, and maintaining close-up focus, are the two biggest challenges with this type of work. Soft, diffused light and a good macro lens are what you need.

Whatever your setup and experience level, we wish you luck!

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