Six Things to Remember when Photographing Jewelry

Read this article for six photography tips from our in-house experts that will help you take better photos of your jewelry.

Last edited: 10/28/2019
One band ring
Shot with a phone. Not very good, I know, but that’s sorta the point.

If you’re a jeweler, metalsmith or any kind of visual artist trying to sell your work, the piece itself can only be as appealing as the photograph you use to market it. Just like the award-winning actor who still can’t make anything great out of terrible writing, the most beautiful diamond in the world will look terrible if it’s badly photographed. See the example above. The shot of this beautiful ring was taken with a crappy stock camera phone and it looks terrible. More like something you’d give to someone you wanted to never talk to again than something you’d actually want to wear. But look at the difference when it’s photographed properly:

One band ring
Shot by one of Rio Grande's in-house photographers using actual, y’know…skill.

Not only can you see the detail of the ring itself, the craftsmanship of the design, and the intricacy of the work, you can also see how the ring catches and reflects light, as well as get a feel for the texture of the material. In that spirit, I talked to two of our two in-house photographers, who gave me some tips for jewelers who need to pick up the camera every now and again for their own work. They gave me six key things to remember when you’re taking your own photographs.

  1. Use a tripod! It helps keep your camera steady, it allows your pictures to be clearer—there’s less movement of the camera itself—and they’re not expensive, either.
  2. Invest in some studio lighting or use natural lighting, like from a window or an open front/back door. Avoid fluorescents, lamps or any other household lighting, as those can come off more harsh and glaring. You can find tots of kits are available for different types of setups.
  3. Diffuse your light! Applying direct light causes hot spots, harsh glare, and similarly unattractive distortions to detract from your product. Diffuse with a piece of Plexiglas, a white umbrella, shower curtains—lots of things will work, some of which you might have sitting around the house.
    A collection of jewelry on displays
    A good display is crucial to making your finished jewelry look their best.
  4. A light table helps with masking, which gives you a nice white background for your images. This helps by making editing/cleaning of the pictures simpler, since there’s less to do when they’re just up against a white background.
  5. When you finally get down to shooting your jewelry, try to be more artistic than just doing a straight overhead shot. Using alternative angles will not only give your piece more dimension, but can also help you show off the intricacy and craftsmanship of your jewelry.
  6. Look around to see what you have for displays. Putting a necklace on a picture frame, for example, can help your piece stand out, as well as give a sense of scale to anyone looking.
    A portalbe light table
    A good, reliable light table is a huge asset for your jewelry photography.

Thanks to the in-house photographers for all of their hard work—all of the great-looking items you see on the site and in our catalog? They shot those. Thumbs up, ladies.