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Jewelry Photography
How do you take pictures of jewelry?

gold earring photonecklace photohert

Taking good quality pictures of jewelry for most is an unsolved mystery.  However, there are some simple techniques used by the professional, which even amateur photographers can use to obtain dramatic results with minimal effort. The following examples show the basic setup that should allow anyone to achieve results they can be proud of. These images were all taken using a Canon Digital Rebel camera with a 100MM lens.

The basic setup we used included an EZcube light tent to soften the shadows and eliminate glare, while providing a clean and clutter free background. We used TabletopStudio lights as the primary light source, equipped with true color daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs. We also used a special Diamond dazzler LED bulb to light up the diamonds and faceted gems in the example images on this page.

The keys to good jewelry photography are sharpness, lighting, exposure, and in the case of gemstone photography, creating some sparkle. Good jewelry photography needs sharp, crisp focus. It is worth getting out your camera's manual to find out how to put the camera in "spot focus" mode. The normal focus mode of digital cameras is some sort of average focus mode. That means that the camera will look at a wide area of a scene and base the focus on that area. Since you want to control where the camera is focusing, it's better for jewelry photography to put the camera into spot focus mode, this will allow you to control more precisely what the camera will be focusing on. However, even in spot focus mode many digital cameras can't really "lock-in" on a small shiny object like gemstone jewelry using auto focus.So unfortunately, for close-up jewelry photography, you need a camera with good manual focus capability.

Another key to a sharp image is a tripod. It is absolutely essential to use a tripod or similar camera support when shooting jewelry. A sturdy tripod is better than a flimsy one, but any tripod is many times better than no tripod. Use a tripod.

Another key to good jewelry photography is the lighting. Normally diffuse (soft) lighting works best for jewelry. You have probably already discovered that an on-camera flash does not lead to good jewelry photos. Not only is the camera's flash too bright at such a close distance, but it is probably in the wrong position to actually light up the jewelry properly. On camera flash will also create harsh and distracting shadows. Rather than flash, we like to use continuous lighting for product photography. Using continuous lights makes it easier to visualize what the final image will be like.

We prefer daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs for lighting. These bulbs provide nice, natural-colored light and they produce very little heat so they can be left on for long photo sessions without over heating the photographer. Even fluorescent light bulbs will need to be diffused and for that we use an EZcube light tent as the diffuser. A small light tent makes it easy to reduce glare and control shadows for jewelry photography.

Proper exposure is also key to good jewelry photography. (For more information on adjusting the exposure for jewelry images take a look at this page.) Now lets look at some specific jewelry photography situations that go beyond the basics.

The reason we often times choose to work with a light tent is because it can provide fast and easy soft lighting, instantly provides a clutter free background along with convenient backdrop support. The Tabletopstudio EZcube's have evolved over time with significant changes made to the design from feedback gathered at countless hours of jewelry photography workshops held in partnership with Brooks Photography Institute. Some of the modifications includes new ways to hang or suspend items more easily inside the tent as well as accessories designed to work with the new EZcube features like acrylic rods that can be suspended inside by the new built-in grommet strips lining the top inside.

Two lights work well for many jewelry items, and may be all that is needed for great results.

Position the two lights to the sides of the EZcube to diffuse the light and eliminate glare. These lights provide the main light source for the piece of jewelry.

Be sure the lights are actually positioned so that they are lighting your jewelry. Try moving the lights around to find a position that flatters your piece. Look at your jewelry as you move the lights.

Experienced photographers will often use a more powerful light on one side to add dimension to the subject. You can create similar results by setting one light closer to the subject.

Sparkler light in front
Ring hanging in Freeze Frame
ezcube top openingEZcube top access

Kuhl Lite's are available in a "zero footprint" size that allows you a wide adjustable range from 28" height at the tallest to the lowest possible height of actual table height.

If you are not working with a light tent they also provide diffusion, by placing the included white diffusion panels over the fronts as shown.

One of the benefits of working with these "zero footprint" stand design is that you can easily place them very close to your subject, therefore increasing the relative size of the light. The result is soft lighting and the ability to place a Kuhl Lite directly behind your subject to blow-out the background to pure white if you desire.

Soft lighting is created partly by the relative size of the light to the subject
One way to effect the size of your light relative to your subject, is to place your light close to the subject you are lighting. This softens the light by making it larger in relation to the subject. There are times where it is ideal to have lights that allow you the flexibility to place them as close as possible to your subject. In this case, the smaller the lighting footprint the better.

How to add sparkle to diamonds or faceted gemstones
A light tent provides nice soft lighting for jewelry and makes for a pleasing image. However, the light tent may not provide the direct lighting necessary to "light up" faceted gemstones or diamonds.  Faceted gemstones & diamonds need to be illuminated by a light source that is positioned at nearly the same place as the camera, shining directly into the face of the stones. But you cannot use an ordinary light or you will get glare and hot spots.Tabletopstudio has a created a special bulb, for diamond photography, that has 36 daylight color LED's. The Diamond Dazzler bulb, shown above, provides the direct, focused, hard light that is needed to unleash the fire of your diamonds, without producing unwanted glare! This bulb is an absolute must have for diamond photography.

The daylight colored LED's are made to match our 5000k daylight color lighting products. This daylight colored LED bulb is made specifically to bring out a diamonds fire or add brilliance to any faceted gemstone without producing glare. It is conveniently designed to fit nicely into our sparkler lights 5" reflector.

Always be sure that all of your lights match in color or you will not be happy with the results. NEVER mix different light source bulb colors. I use all 5000K daylight balanced bulbs for all of my example images, and never need to make color corrections. Also, leave your auto white balance setting ALONE. Most cameras do a great job with this set to Auto. If you ignore this advice and change your white balance setting, expect a greenish color cast over the entire image. White balance settings will not give you a white background.

The "sparkler" light is the third  light, and the key to having properly lit faceted gemstones. This light must be positioned so that you see the stones sparkle.

Position the sparkler light to shine directly into the gemstone to illuminate the stone. Because this light is not diffused by the light tent, it needs to be a weaker light than the side lights. Move this light until you see the gem light up.  

Look through the camera's viewfinder when positioning the sparkler light.  While taking these example images, I found it helpful to turn off the other lights while I found the perfect placement for the sparkler light.

sparkler lightSparkler light
diamond dazzlerDiamond Dazzler LED
dazzler lightSparkler with Dazzler bulb


Clear frosted acrylic provides a soft reflection of the jewelry placed on top. We named this the "Tiffany effect" because Tiffany uses this effect so often on their web site.

Position the bracelet in the middle of the acrylic panel, so the edges can be cropped easily out of the photograph. The angle of camera view will make the reflection more vivid or less, so always look through the camera viewfinder as you adjust your tripod position.

Be sure to clean your jewelry first and always spend some time on the composition or "styling" of the item. It's best to photograph the jewelry from several different angles to see what looks the most pleasing.


Even amateur photographers can obtain dramatic results with minimal effort.
The gallery of images below were cropped, but otherwise unaltered and were taken using an
Canon Digital Rebel camera with a 100mm macro lens.

jewelry gallery

Stand up small charms or pendants using prop wax
Wax can be a great invisible hand when it comes to standing up small pieces of jewelry. Just place a tiny little bit on the bottom of the item you are working with. This is a great way to stand up rings or tall focal beads too. I used a tiny bit too much here to make the point that you don't want to see the wax in the final image. So be frugal, use the least amount possible. The wax is strong and will not dry out so it can be used over and over again.

This wax works great, as shown in this example, on black acrylic. I stood the seahorse upright on top of my black acrylic, and then casually had the gold chain meander through the background. This is a fresh alternative to the jewelry bust that you often find people shooting on these days. The jewelry busts were designed for brick and mortar storefronts, and do not make attractive photographic backgrounds. When in doubt always feel free to look at your favorite jewelry web site to see how they lay out their jewelry to be photographed. Tiffany of course has a beautiful web site full of inspiration.

camera angle


Using high gloss black acrylic or glass creates a dramatic reflection. "Black ice" is a favorite of pro photographers and can be used to create many desirable effects depending on light positioning.

Black glass or black acrylic can produce many different effects so decide ahead of time what effect you're looking for. If you desire a dramatic reflection on a pure black background then you will need to insert a piece of black paper {the size of the EZcube sweep} into the EZcube.

The paper will make a sweep that goes along the back of the light tent and arches over the ceiling of the tent inside. This will block all of the reflections you would see of the EZcube in the black reflective surface.

blackiceUnwanted white reflections
black paper solves problem
swarovski bracelet
Pure black desired effect

When photographing pearls, by using only one light source positioned above, the pearls will appear rounder with more dimension.

A Kul Lite Pad laid on top of a 20" EZcube, as shown right, acts as a boom light. This can also be a Kuhl Lite softbox placed on top of the Ezcube. The EZcube works great here to soften the shadows and is necessary to control the reflections in the pearls..

Styling your pearls, by positioning them in a smooth, pleasing shape is critical for a professional look. Professional photographers often hire a styling expert to help find the right layout. Look at good photos of pearls and copy the styling. The pattern "8" is popular and a "dog collar" shape works well for short strands.

pearlsetupSingle light source above
Pearls styled like an "8"
"Dog collar" shape

Controlling the reflections in pearls
The reflections in a pearl can help add dimension to the pearl but you will want to maintain control over what is reflected. Pearls can be mirror like {with the exception of fresh water pearls}. A light tent is very desirable for control of this. Pearls will appear more dimensional if they are grounded by a soft shadow. If you have a single light source placed directly above the pearls you should get great results; the pearls will appear very 3D.

In the example images shown above, the dark area on each pearl is a reflection of the dark room I was shooting in. I could control the size of the dark area by using the front EZcube cover. If I zipped the cover as tightly shut as possible around my camera lens the size of dark area shrinks. If I remove the EZcube front cover altogether the size is larger. This is a personal choice, use what method looks best to you. The dark area is not a negative because it provides contrast and helps add luster to show the pearls finish. The key is to avoid a flat, dull finish, commonly seen in photos where the photographer used too many lights. A single light provides a single white highlight, perfect for establishing to the eye that an object is round.



Basic Jewelry Photography Tools & Equipment

The jewelry photography lighting & equipment used to take the example images shown above is provided here in detail. Please note the sparkler light and diamond dazzler LED bulb are not necessary for all jewelry. They are designed for use with faceted stones such as diamonds and faceted gems. Pearls & Cabochons will not work with the LED Diamond Dazzler. Undesirable reflections of all 36 led's will reflect on the cabochon or pearl surface.

Photo Kits
Ideal for
Light Tent
More lights
Acrylic Panel
Ideal for faceted gemstone jewelry & diamond photography
EZcube light box ezbackdrop
trumpet top gh sea
Basic Jewelry Photography Tools
20" & 12" EZcube for diffused lighting & background support
Smooth White background
DVD & Guide
Kühl Lite Soft box available with short stands for zero-footprint
5000k bulbs daylight balanced low heat CFL

LED Dazzler II with 36 LED's for diamonds and faceted gems

16" Black & Clear acrylic for dramatic or subtle reflections
EZ staging Kit with Freeze Frame for suspending jewelry in mid-air


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"Freeze Frame" for Jewelry Photography
Hanging earrings or pendants motion free

gold earring photonecklace photogem hoop photo
If you have been struggling to take pictures of earrings & sell jewelry online, guaranteed you will be happy about this break through by the TabletopStudio folks. Many times it is not possible to hire a professional photographer due to cost or timing related issues, and you are faced with having to take your own photos. It is possible for you to get great shots of your items if you have the proper equipment such as lighting and camera and a few other extras to help get the job done well.

The photos shown here are no doubt what all jewelers selling online are striving to achieve. The technique shown here can be used with an "open photographic set" which does not require the use of a light tent, such as the EZcube, if you have a soft box light. If you do not have a soft box we recommend using this tool inside of an EZcube light tent, to soften the light. We will show you how it can be used both ways, and will greatly reduce the large amount of time spent struggling to compose your jewelry before beginning to shoot.

TabletopStudio Freeze Frame developed to "freeze" jewelry in mid air

Even professional photographers are challenged by how to hang earrings or pendants in a way that will work for taking a picture. TabletopStudio while partnering with Brooks Photography workshops to teach jewelry photography, developed this great technique to hang earrings and other small items using two fine filament lines for support with an acrylic frame we call a "freeze-frame". The first line supports the subject nicely. But the second line is the key to anchoring the subject in place so it does not swing for hours while you wait patiently by for it to stop moving. Choose the placement of these lines carefully so you have less photoshop work later. The benefits of using the Freeze-Frame are many; one key benefit is that it provides a way to completely separate the subject from the background which means any background can be placed behind the freeze-frame, lighted independently of the jewelry, and your resulting image will be shadow less.

Run the first line of filament from side to side & clip in place. Hang the earring from it. Then run the second line through the lower portion of the earring and pull slightly downward to freeze the earring in place. Once the second line is secured you can adjust the earring and tension will hold it in place.

Now you can move the freeze frame, instead of the earring, to find a pleasing angle of view of the earring frozen in place. Now position the freeze frame 10" x 12" white background behind your earring and take a look through the camera.

A great secret to know when shooting earrings that match ... pros often shoot one individual earring and use Photoshop, to create a duplicate.

Jewelry Freeze Frame
Un-edited image from camera
After touch-up in Photoshop

Large clear acrylic stud holder
Small acrylic stud holder
Pocket watch in Freeze Frame
Before touch-up in Photoshop
After touch-up in Photoshop

Keep in mind that to avoid harsh shadows and reduce glare, jewelry photography, like all product photography, normally requires soft lighting, For soft lighting the Freeze Frame can be used inside an EZcube or with the Kuhl Lite soft boxes.The primary light source for the examples shown on this page was one single Kuhl Lite 120 soft box . This light holds four 30 Wattcamera angle compact fluorescent bulbs, putting out a substantial amount of light, which allows you to shoot with your camera set to a faster shutter speed.

The image to the right shows a ring suspended in the freeze frame. In this setup the camera is shooting downward so the white freeze frame background is laying on the table surface and would appear to be behind the diamond ring in the photo. Because this is an open set {not an enclosed light tent} sometimes your shiny jewelry will reflect darkness from items in the room. Use the white fill card as shown in this setup to "fill" the darker areas with reflected light. The fill card should always face the light source it is reflecting, to be effective. Move the card around to find the right spot if your jewelry needs a little extra light in one spot.

Be sure that all of your lights match in color or you will not be happy with the results. NEVER mix different light source bulb colors. Also, leave your auto white balance setting ALONE. Most cameras do a great job with this set to Auto. If you ignore this advice and change your white balance setting, expect a greenish color cast over the entire image. White balance settings will not give you a white background.

The three most effective ways to whiten your background:

  • Camera exposure - increase the exposure time
  • Photoshop or Elements - adjust "levels"
  • Photoshop or Elements - remove the image background

    How do you photograph highly reflective gold and silver jewelry?

    Even professional photographers are challenged by how to photograph highly reflective jewelry. There are always decisions and trade offs that need to be made in order to get the job done. The trick is not to eliminate the reflections but to "control" them so you get to decide which ones enhance the reflective appearance of your piece and which ones detract from it. You'll need to make some choices so be sure to take a hard look at jewelry images you admire first. Tiffany jewelry's web site is a good source of inspiration for reflective silver jewelry images. Although they do spend more time in Photo shop then we would suggest.


    If you eliminated ALL reflections in your jewelry, it would appear dull, flat and lifeless.

    A) The silver hoop earring hung in the freeze frame on a table, NO light tent. The earrings reflected everything in the room; looking "noisy". See setup A) below.

    B) the same earring hung on the Freeze Frame now placed inside the EZcube, leaving the front of the tent open. See setup B) below.

    C) eliminate even more reflections by placing the EZcube front cover in place. It will be a personal choice which way to go & which style appeals most to you while shooting your product. This result is too dull for my liking. See setup C) below.

    hhA) NO EZcube Light Tent
    tttB) EZcube no front cover
    gC) EZcube with front cover

    reflectiveA) Freeze Frame NO EZcube
    reflective2B) EZcube - NO front cover
    reflective3C) EZcube - Front Cover
    elocquinnA) Freeze Frame NO EZcube
    gold hoop earringsA) Freeze Frame NO EZcube

    The EZ staging Jewelry Suspension Tools

    The Freeze Frame setup shown above provides many ways of hanging the same piece of jewelry; you can find what works best for your item. Necklaces can be hung from the background or in the Freeze Frame. Stud earrings are a snap now with the new addition of the large and mini clear acrylic earring stud holders.

    Ideal for
    360 EZclips
    Stud Stand
    Fill Card
    Clear Rods
    Ideal for suspending various jewelry pieces in mid-air
    ff1 ff2
    ms wh p kk
    Jewelry Staging Photography Tools
    8"x10" clear acrylic Freeze-Frame
    White EZclips with 360 swivel & small container prop wax
    8"x10" clear frosted stud earring holder
    4"x6" clear frosted mini-stud holder
    8"x10" white fill card & three photography clamps

    10"x12" white background to place behind Freeze-Frame

    "Invisible Thread" for supporting subjects in air
    Clear acrylic support rods for 12' & 20" EZcubes

    Copyright © 2014 TableTop Studio INC. All rights reserved.

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    Advanced Jewelry Photography
    How to take pictures of jewelry on black acrylic or glass

    jewelry pictures
    If you sell jewelry online, you want to display your products in the most flattering way possible to attract more customers. Many times it is not possible to hire a professional photographer due to cost or timing related issues, and you are faced with having to take your own photos. It is possible for you to get great shots of your items if you have the proper equipment such as lighting and camera as well as a plan of action regarding the look you are trying to achieve. We will discuss here how to photograph your jewelry in one particular attractive manner popular in high end fashion magazines.

    The technique shown here requires the use of some very specific items to have success. We will list the equipment used as we go along, and a complete list can be found at the end of this document. This technique uses an "open photographic set" which does not require the use of a light tent, such as the EZcube. We will be using a soft box and diffusion paper to soften the lighting instead.

    Using high gloss black acrylic or black glass for photography

    Professional photographers will use black glass to achieve this effect shown below, but high gloss black acrylic can be used in place of real glass for a safer setup. By looking at the setup below, the results are somewhat unexpected. The very shiny black background resembles a softly airbrushed background in the final image, instead of a reflective mirror.

    A small 5" reflector diffused by a sheet of translucent mylar creates a beautiful soft halo around the necklace focal point. It requires a great deal of patience to correctly line up the halo, produced by the lights 5" reflector, exactly where you would intend it to be.

    The "halo" or "bright spot" is created by positioning a light with a 5" reflector, behind a diffusion panel made of a white translucent mylar material. This small light is placed on the opposite side of the table from the camera, and on the backside of the jewelry. You will not be able to tell if the halo is in the right spot unless you look through the camera lens. Contrary to what you may think, this light does not need to be pointed downward.

    Raising or lowering the light stand will move the halo location toward the camera or away. The position of the light shown in these examples is the setup that produced these photos.

    setup for jewelry
    black acrylic
    swarovski photography

    The primary light source for the necklace shown, was positioned on the side of the table, facing downward toward the jewelry and table surface. A single soft box was used to soften the primary light source and prevent glare and hotspots on the surface of the crystals. We used one single 20" x 20" Kuhl Lite 120 soft box for this. This light holds four 30 Wattcamera angle compact fluorescent bulbs, putting out a substantial amount of light, which allows you to shoot with your camera set to a faster shutter speed.

    The large acrylic sheet used, has a protective sheet on both sides; we highly recommend leaving the second side covered with the protective sheeting until you intend to use it. The acrylic does scratch easily, so dragging jewelry across the surface is to be avoided when at all possible. Glass is more durable and can be used instead of acrylic; however it is more hazardous to work with due to the fragile nature of glass.

    This technique works especially well for jewelry that lies flat like the necklace shown. Because this is an open set and the black acrylic is highly reflective, it will take some patience to line things up just right so the acrylic is not reflecting things you do not wish to see in your image. If you have the opportunity to work in an area with high ceilings, that helps to reduce the overhead reflections a bit. Be sure to keep looking through the camera lens after repositioning any part of the setup. Unwanted reflections have a way of sneaking in just when you think you're all set.

    Be sure that all of your lights match in color or you will not be happy with the results. NEVER mix different light source bulb colors. I use all 5000K daylight balanced bulbs for all of my example images.

    "Black Ice" Photography Tools & Equipment

    The equipment shown here works great for taking pictures of jewelry in the specific style shown above. This is a very popular style of photography seen often in high end fashion magazines. The lighting setup creates a wonderful special Halo Effect.

    Photo Kit
    Ideal for
    5000k Bulbs
    More lights
    Acrylic Panel
    black ice Ideal for taking jewelry photos in this "halo" style...   trumpet top hu diffuser
    "Black Ice" Kit
    White translucent backdrop used to diffuse the small halo light
    Kühl Lite 120 with diffusion cover for soft, high output, diffuse lighting
    5000k bulbs daylight balanced low heat CFL
    Sparkler Light with 5" reflector for creating the Halo
    23" x 23" Black double sided high-gloss acrylic
    8" stand & arm for supporting white translucent material

    Copyright © 2014 TableTop Studio INC. All rights reserved.