Since the beginning of time, jewelry businesses have been widely redeemed as highly profitable and they are.
According to Statista, the value of the global jewelry market is close to 230 billion USD.
Starting from small-time craft jewelry shops to globally reputed brands, humans naturally love adorning themselves with beautiful ornaments.
These days, a jewelry business is nothing without its photography.
Digitalization has enabled people to purchase all luxury goods right from home, making jewelry photography very important for visual attraction.
Because of so many intricacies, jewelry photography can indeed seem overwhelming.
Do not worry, as this article contains all the important information for learning how to photograph jewelry like a pro!
It contains tips plus a guide of mistakes to avoid while taking jewelry shots. Let’s begin!
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
Table of Contents
- Jewelry Photography Tips
- Common Jewelry Photography Mistakes to Avoid
- Why Do We Need Jewelry Photography Post-Production?
- Final Remarks
Jewelry Photography Tips
Here are some of the most important jewelry photography tips that can be helpful to both professionals and amateurs.
Utilize these tips every time you take a photo.
1. Use a Macro Lens
For jewelry photography, always use macro lenses.
Since your camera will be focusing on the tiniest of details, wide angle lenses or any other lenses would not really help.
The camera’s stock 18-55 mm lens works quite well for jewelry photoshoots, despite not being a macro lens.
Using a macro lens with a high focal length will inevitably provide better results. It will let you shoot from a distance with high image resolution and detail.
100 mm or higher focal lengths are suitable and can give you excellent results.
2. Always Use a Tripod
Never, ever shoot jewelry images handheld.
Handheld photography is great for taking spontaneous, dynamic shots. But for jewelry photography, you will have enough time to set your angles.
That’s why, always use a tripod. Why? Well, taking handheld shots may have several repercussions in the final image.
No matter how sturdy your hands may be, there will still be a reasonable amount of image blurring.
It may not be noticeable to you on the camera screen, but during post-production, it will be visible. Using a tripod will eliminate all sorts of blurring and image distortion.
A tripod will also help you observe your lighting setup on the camera’s display whilst adjusting everything back and forth.
Without it, there can be no fixed position for you to place your camera.
3. Only White or Light Backdrops
White or lighter colored Backdrops will help bounce the light and highlight all parts of the jewelry.
Darker backdrops may be aesthetically pleasing but will also absorb a lot of the light, resulting in dimly lit photographs.
Background for jewelry photography is usually white (but not always)
4. Glue Dot or Double Sided Tape
In certain shots, you may want a ring or bracelet to stand upright. Using glue dots which will hold the piece of jewelry temporarily can help you achieve that.
Using double sided tape or masking tape is a good alternative too, although it may not hold slightly heavier jewelry.
Whether you use glue or tape, try to make it as invisible as you can. Some of it will show up in the image and can be removed during post-production.
5. Keep Your Jewelry Clean
One tip which a lot of photographers take for granted is product cleanliness. For learning how to photograph jewelry, this is one of the most important tips.
Fingerprints and small lint particles may not seem like a big deal. Sometimes, the bare eye may not even notice them. But these minor spots severely harm the aesthetic of a jewelry item.
Thus, it’s best to handle your jewelry items with fresh gloves and clean them thoroughly before taking a picture.
Your items need to be exceptionally clean. Not just ordinary clean, but immaculately clean to the point where it’s spotless.
6. Light Evenly
A ring, bracelet, necklace, or any piece of jewelry will contain a lot of tiny crevices and corners. These fine details essentially define the jewelry for what it is.
Without adequate and even lighting, these nooks and crannies may not be highlighted properly or, the opposite, overexposed.
Illuminate your jewelry piece as evenly as you can. If you can find natural light, that’d be great.
If not, using light sources from multiple directions is certainly a good solution. Multiple soft lights instead of a few hard lights will give you better results.
Do ensure not to point any light sources directly or even at an angle towards the camera unless you want a ruined photograph!
7. Correct Camera Settings
This will determine the exposure of your photograph, which in turn will determine the jewelry’s appeal.
It all depends on your frame, but if your item is evenly lit, using a shutter speed between 1/50 to 1/250 is safe.
Since you will be using a tripod, you don’t need very high shutter speed.
However, using too low shutter speeds can overexpose the photo; thus, it’s best to pick a balanced setting.
If your shot contains some visual range and you want some depth of field, you could pick higher aperture values that slightly blur out the background.
For jewelry, it’s best to keep the entire item in focus and looking sharp, making a lower aperture value more suitable.
As with most forms of photography, it’s best to keep the ISO low.
You can safely pick slightly higher ISO values if needed, but not too high. Certainly not above 600.
Auto or Manual Camera Setting?
The ‘AUTO’ camera setting will do the entire job for you.
But shortcuts aren’t always the way to go.
Different jewelry pieces might require slightly different lighting, and the auto setting will not be able to fine-tune the camera settings the way you can, manually.
Manual adjustment may seem a bit of work at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll be amazed to see the quality of jewelry photographs that you’ll be able to take.
8. Eliminate Shadow and Reflections
Jewelry pieces are entirely reflective surfaces. This is one of the most important tips for any jewelry photographer.
Like a previous tip mentioned above, using soft lights from multiple angles will help reduce reflections. Natural light can also be integrated into the photo.
Additionally, you should move your light sources around so that it does not create reflections in the camera.
Doing so will reduce reflections but may introduce shadows in return. A good way to avoid that is by placing a low-intensity light slightly far from the jewelry, at the angle towards the shadow.
Combining this with the right camera setting will help you mitigate all visible, disruptive shadows.
To further explore the subject of jewelry photography tips, we also recommend this video by soona:
Common Jewelry Photography Mistakes to Avoid
Now that you’re aware of the most important tips needed for learning how to photograph jewelry, we can discuss the common mistakes that a lot of people make.
No matter what, always take every measure to avoid these mistakes.
1. Coloring Issues
Your jewelry photographs must always be true to color.
Meaning the items should look exactly the way they look in real life.
Coloring issues can occur because of improper lighting or post-processing. You should fix this issue however you can and avoid it in the first place if possible.
Your jewelry coloring should be consistent with reality.
2. Image Sizing Inconsistency
Always take photographs with the correct sizing reference.
For example, let’s say you have two photographs of your earring. One of them is the entire earring, and another one is of the bud of one earring.
The photograph of the bud should not appear larger in size in comparison to the other photograph.
This creates a confusing reference for the viewer, for which they will ignore both pictures altogether.
Thus, make sure your image sizing is consistent and pleasurable to view.
3. Few Images and Angles
There will never be too many pictures.
You should take images from multiple angles and distances for any form of product photography, jewelry photography included.
Otherwise, you will never know what the A-listed photo of your jewelry can actually look like.
4. Not Using Jewelry Models
A lot of photographers experiment with different backgrounds and sceneries, but one mistake almost all photographers make is not using models!
Renowned jewelry brands like Carter & Tiffany & Co. all use models for a lot of their jewelry items.
You may not have professional models at your disposal, but you can easily find friends who are willing to put on a ring to take a photo.
Models will help the viewer visualize what the item may look like in their hands, giving you more credibility as a store.
5. Using Different Types of Lights
When you purchase lights, you should ensure that they are all of the same color temperatures.
A light that is even slightly bluer than the other can really damage your photo. Thus, it’s good to check the light specifications before using them.
Lighting consistency is important for any jewelry photography setup.
6. Avoiding Post-Production
Your photo may look fantastic after you ensure all of these steps.
Still, you shouldn’t avoid post-production. It’s a big mistake made by a lot of eCommerce sellers who are just starting out.
Why shouldn’t you avoid post-production? We’ll discuss that in the following section.
Why Do We Need Jewelry Photography Post-Production?
Photography post-production fine tunes all of the imperfections that are completely invisible to our eyes.
Additionally, it enhances the image to look magnificent and as appealing as it can be. The “professional” feeling that you get while looking at a high-quality image, is all thanks to post-production.
Post-production is a must-have for jewelry photography because, at the end of the day, it is the image that will sell.
You need your photos to be as top-notch as possible. Apart from quality, post-production also ensures photo consistency with regards to sizing, cropping, coloring, and lighting.
Without a post-production firm or agency, it would be almost impossible for you to edit a large number of jewelry images without sacrificing all of your time.
You could outsource your images to be edited by professional photo editing companies. Doing so will greatly save you time and energy to work on other aspects of your life and business.
This is one aspect of learning how to photograph jewelry which you don’t need to learn all by yourself.
To further explore post-production for jewelry photography and other eCommerce products, we also recommend this video by PHOTIGY:
There you have it! Now you are prepped to take award-winning jewelry photographs either for your photography or your business.
Always follow the tips mentioned in this article and do avoid the mistakes mentioned. We hope this guide has helped you learn how to photograph jewelry!
John is a photography enthusiast by heart. He shoots both film and digital with a preference leaning towards his 1960s Canon QL19 and the robust Nikon F2. As for digital, he loves to take handy mirrorless cameras on his trips. Over the last 12 years, he’s had experience using different brands of lenses and cameras making it handy in giving unbiased reviews on anything that is photography gear related.