I'm trying to help my wife take some pictures of jewelry she made. It's not for commercial use, but think of the photos we're going for as being similar to what one might want for a commercial shot in a catalogue.

I'm trying to see if there are specific types of lighting or settings that are generally more appropriate when shooting jewelry.


The jewelry in question has some earthy, rough qualities, and we'll likely shoot it with some warm, earthy things in the background. Also, these items are gold and silver, highly textured, and some have diamonds in them.

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    Sorry, this is not too broad. It's been around for almost 5 years and has 7 reasonable answers that provide advice to help newcomers in this arena.
    – Joanne C
    Apr 12, 2015 at 3:02

7 Answers 7


Soft light. I would use some kind of macro tent to get soft light from all around.

Maybe add one direct flash to emphasize texture or add some flashy highlights.

With highly polished jewelry beware of reflexions. Polished jewelry acts like an allround mirror reflecting everything in sight, best would be to have a light tent with just a small opening for the lens.

  • You'll want some depth of field, so I wouldn't consider an f/1.4 lens. You'll probably want f/8 or f/11 anyway to get the entire item in focus.

  • Camera on a tripod for maximum sharpness and to allow for longer exposures if required.

  • Diffuse light from both sides - use a light tent, softboxes, or bounce flash off large white boards/reflectors to provide the main light which should be nice and even

  • For a little sparkle, have a small light/flash near the camera (just above or a little to one side) This will produce a "hard" light that will reflect back at the camera.

  • It's common to use something like a 70-200mm zoom for product and food photography, but a 50mm can do the job

  • but f8 will get the background of the ring also in focus? :( what abou the bokeh? Dec 30, 2011 at 6:19
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    With a 100mm lens at f/8 and the camera 1m (3 ft) from the subject, the depth of field is only a few cms (an inch or so). You can still have out of focus backgrounds. What is your background? If it's just white cloth/paper, there won't be any bokeh anyway, you'll just have blown out white.
    – MikeW
    Dec 30, 2011 at 6:31
  • Mike, for the sparkle can I use a torch? I mean hold the torch near the camera pointing towards the ring? Does it make sense? Dec 30, 2011 at 8:47
  • Yes I think you could. Depends on the product, but it could be ideal. Basically some soft light wrapping around the overall scene, and a small hard light producing a bit of sparkle.
    – MikeW
    Dec 30, 2011 at 9:09
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    For the camera to see "sparkle" you need a concentration of light hitting a surface of your product and reflecting into the lens. Assuming a flat surface like the bevel of a cut diamond, that light would need to come from a certain angle. If you have soft diffuse light, a little bit will come from that angle, but you want to concentrate a smaller beam, which is what I meant by "hard" light. For info on this, see the book Light: Science and Magic.
    – MikeW
    Dec 30, 2011 at 9:27

Seamless backgrounds are also good for product shots. There's no need to spend any real money on it either, there are hundreds of DIY projects for this made from things that you're very likely to already have in your house. A great example of this is the DIY light tent made with a cardboard box, some white semi-transparent material (cookie sheets will work), and some bristol board. This gives you a nice seamless background and is set up specifically to use indirect lighting so that you reduce/eliminate shadows.


Generally it looks good with a seamless plain white or velvet black background - so get some thin white card or some good quality black velvet fabric and curve it within your tent. An alternative is to use a piece of transparent plastic on top of a black or white card which gives subtle reflections.

For rings you can fix them in place with a very small blob of wax or tack. Earrings or pendants can be held on some transparent wire hanging from loops on your light tent.

Your camera should be on a tripod, with mirror lock-up enabled and using a remote trigger of some kind or a timed release. Use a small aperture (large f-number) to give appropriate depth of field. If you need greater depth of field you might want to consider focus stacking, although this can be difficult to get right without additional hardware like a focusing rail.

I would suggest placing your lights in different positions on the outside of your tent and experiment with what looks good. Try using one of the lights on a higher power to over-light the background to give the pure white, while the other lights the subject.

For reflective objects, try using sections of white and black card standing vertically around the subject, to give pleasing white/black transitions.

Clean the jewellery very carefully. Any scratches or dust will show up and will need to be removed in post-processing, so save yourself some time by cleaning as much as possible to start with.

To get sparkle you can try using an additional light just below the camera - adjust as necessary to get the refraction that makes diamonds and other jewels look great.

There are also plenty of good jewelry sites on the net for inspiration.

  • Thanks, for the quick response. I have updated the links above so should be working now. I will give your suggestions a try this evening and will feedback results.
    – Dino
    Aug 4, 2011 at 14:14
  • I've had a look at the example photo. I think the only difficulty you might face is getting sufficient depth of field, but please try and ask any further questions. Have fun! Aug 4, 2011 at 14:17
  • No probs, thanks. Does the panasonic fz45 not provide enough depth of field (I was trying to find specs on this can't find anything), I may change the camera in the near future what dof spec should i be looking for to achieve a picture similar to above?
    – Dino
    Aug 4, 2011 at 14:32
  • It's a general problem with shooting small objects with macro lenses - your camera should be perfectly suitable. Aug 4, 2011 at 14:36

Use indirect flash. You want the light to be hard enough to show the brilliance of the gems, but using on camera flash will leave you with a lot of strange glare. If you use flash from the side you will end up with much more natural lighting.


You might want to consider a star filter or post processing in photoshop. Note that it is often considered to be a bit cliche or even cheesy if really overdone.

See www.tiffen.com/star_filters for an example of the filter.


Make sure the jewelry items are perfectly clean. Shoot tethered if possible and compose on your computer's screen. Any tiny defect or dirt that you think is invisible b/c you don't see it on your camera's screen will be seen when enlarged. It will also greatly help you assess and control unwanted reflections.

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