7 Easy Steps to Style & Photograph Jewelry

When jewelry is photographed correctly, it can look magical. The items can be seen to sparkle, and their best features are boldly shown. The jewelry pieces become attractive for purchasing or just showing off. But if the photography isn't done well, it can result in gorgeous items looking dull, blurred, and overall unappealing. 

Whether you sell jewelry or want to photograph it for other reasons, here are seven easy steps to amazing photos.

Related: How to Photograph Jewelry for Instagram (Best Photoshoot Ideas)

7 Easy Steps to Style & Photograph Jewelry

Following are seven easy steps to styling and taking fantastic jewelry photos

1. Lighting

One of the essential steps to taking great photos is good lighting. But here's a hint, your camera's flash, is not it? The images will contain harsh background shadows and white light spots if a bright light shines directly onto your reflective jewelry. This will leave the best features of the jewelry undistinguished. 

Of course, many professional lights and lighting accessories on the market will provide the level of lighting you need, but the best is natural lighting. Using natural sunlight indirectly by setting your product by a window will produce flattering images. 

Finally, let the lighting be even. Be wary of creating unflattering shadows with one-sided lighting. So consider kits with umbrellas, fabric diffusers, stands, and a flash trigger. These items can eliminate camera reflections and shadows. 


A photography set with lighting and umbrellas


2. Use the Right Lens

While you can purchase cameras with useful kit lenses, these are usually unsuitable for photographing jewelry pieces. For the little details of rings and earrings, you should buy an entry-level macro lens with a focal length of about 60 mm. 

With fixed zoom, you'll be able to photograph your objects close up, and the magnification will look half-life-size - perfect for photographing jewelry. If you have a bigger budget, you should consider a macro lens that can give you life-size magnification. 

3. Use a Tripod

Even the steadiest hands can shake - just enough to ruin your photos. To avoid that problem, consider using a camera and tripod. When looking for a good tripod, consider one with an Arca Swiss-compatible ball head or a removable tripod ball head. The significant benefit of this is the fluid movement to get just the right angle. Once you've got that good angle, you can lock the head.  

Your tripod doesn't have to be expensive, just sturdy and functional. 

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4. Backdrops

To show off the delicate and intricate jewelry details, your chosen background can make all the difference. A white background will allow only the colors of the jewelry to show and not be altered. The white background will also reflect light, which will benefit the image of your jewelry.  

Fortunately, providing a white background for your jewelry shots is far easier than for larger objects. You can get away with creating a functional set-up on a chair - using the seat and seat back for the background. You can make a whole background with one sheet of paper. 

Related: How to Clean Costume Jewelry: 3 Easy Ways 

5. A Mannequin Bust

Now that you have the right equipment for the photography, you'll have to find ways to style the jewelry, so its best features are clearly seen. For necklaces, a mannequin bust is a perfect prop. Again, as the color white works best as a background for jewelry, consider covering your mannequin bust in clean white fabric. 

6. Sticky Stuff

As you style and position the jewelry pieces, you'll need to find ways to hold them in place. This is where humble items like glue spots, double-sided tape, and Blu-Tack become invaluable to you. For instance, you can use any of these to hold a ring in a standing position for a favorable angle and a great photo.  

7. Cardboard & String

If you don't have a mannequin bust, you can use a piece of cardboard to create a jewelry prop. Take a sturdy piece of white cardboard and either make two angled cuts for the chain of a necklace to rest or just tape the ends of the necklace to the back of the card. Be ready to adjust the chain length to find a good look for the photos. 

A necklace hanging in this manner puts it in a natural position and helps the viewer imagine it on themselves. 

For smaller jewelry pieces, consider using string, thread, or fishing string to hang things like dangling earrings. You can achieve this by folding a piece of cardboard and standing it up like a greeting card. Then you can stretch the string from the end of one corner to the end of the other corner. The only concern is ensuring the item is completely still before photographing it. 


A professional camera with a large lens.


Mistakes to Avoid

Following the above steps will ensure you get the best photos of your jewelry. But here are a few mistakes to avoid: 

  • Inconsistent Image Size: If you are displaying your jewelry photos on an eCommerce site or elsewhere with other jewelry photos, try to keep the image size consistent so that everything is aligned.
  • Prepare the Jewelry: Make sure you clean and polish each piece before taking the photos. This will save you editing time later to rid the images of dust and fingerprints. 
  • Poor Lighting: We've already said quite a lot about lighting because it makes all the difference. Great lighting can take your jewelry from looking mundane to fabulous! 
  • Direct Sunlight: While natural lighting is the best for photos, direct sunlight can be far too harsh and create dark spots, weird shadowing, and, ultimately, unflattering images. 
  • Inaccurate Coloring: When photographing the jewelry, ensure that the resulting images show the correct coloring of the metal and any stones. You might be surprised how a gold ring in poor lighting can appear silver in photos. 

As you set out to photograph jewelry, you'll find that it can be an enjoyable experience. Just follow the above tips and see superb images! 

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Stacking Your Jewelry

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