This is not something that anyone can shoot. Should you decide to take on a photography assignment where jewelry is involved, you will need to understand, the different lighting setups and have the correct lenses and gear on hand.

One needs to understand that any kind of glass or stone has facets that need to sparkle in your shot. Metals like polished silver, gold or chrome also provides challenges like unwanted reflections. Remember to have a clean soft cloth to wipe off all chances of fingerprints, which, when shot with a good macro lens, will be visible on the image.

If you have Lightroom, it would also be a good idea to shoot tether, which will make your life easier.

Having that being said, it is not all that difficult. Remember there is a big difference between photographing costume jewelry pac shots to product photography, like a Cartier watch where focus stacking as well as time takes a major portion of the cost.

If might even be an idea to shadow a jewelry photographer to learn the secrets and pick up tips first before your first big job.

Firstly, try keep the shot simple

The idea is to make the jewelry “pop”, you want to see the sparkle, so attention should be placed on this and the background should remain uncluttered, minimal and even. Often you will need to deep etch or cut out the jewelry for placement purposes, so a clean background will assist in this editing process. Consider a table top, a wooden surface, or a plain white or reflective background, like a sheet of perspex.

Then simply zoom on the main points and features to exclude the rest of the piece with a wide aperture to create a blurred background which often is perfect for the mood and feel.

Make sure your camera is stabilized

A tripod and a remote shutter release is essential to secure the camera to avoid camera shake as well as assist with set up and placement. One will find this useful when using a high aperture f-stop number for depth of field from front to back. Stability also provides ease and convenience for manual focusing and framing your item correctly. With camera in place, you can then adjust and position your lighting.

Tips on how to focus correctly for jewelry

We all know that the focal point should be on the main area of the sparkle in order to attempt to get the stellar effect that you desire. One can use either manual or auto focus, just make sure that you are critical after the fact to ensure the focus is achieved and spot on. Make sure that you have the “money shot”, the detail and all the facets that you need displayed in the image.

With a wide depth of field, and dependent on the angle and positioning of the piece of jewelry, it is sometimes almost impossible to have focus throughout. The solution is to use focus stacking, a technique used mostly for product photography for clients with niche brands and big budgets. Using focus stacking, allows you to take several shots at different focus points, allowing sharp focus all round when the final image is edited in the various stacked product layers in photoshop. Google focus stacking on YouTube, you will soon see that the process of this technique is straight forward and rewarding.

Making sure jewelry is the correct color temperature

Once all your lighting is correctly set up and all is ready to shoot, make sure you adjust the white balance to ensure the color temperature matches that of the jewelry. When it comes to the editing, it will save you time and offer the consistency that you require from the background gradient through the piece being photographed. Shooting correctly first time, through tests and preparation will save you so much time at the end of the day. You want to avoid editing, just resize and crop and color correct, that’s it.

The best form of lighting for shooting jewelry

My suggestion is flash or continuous lighting, where you can control the angles and the sparkle and ensure you maintain soft and even lighting which will help to eliminate shadow. Many photographers will use a LED cube to place the product, this is sometimes a short and quick solution, this will all depend on the look and feel required as well as the budget, space constraints and the amount of equipment and lighting you have for the shoot.

My suggestion is that you either do a short workshop or make use of tutorials and practice, practice, practice, have patience and record your set up recipes for future use. A great person to follow is Karl Taylor, he knows his stuff and is worth every second spent.