Jewellery Photography – How To Photograph a Diamond Necklace

Karl photographs a diamond necklace for the second class in our series of jewellery photos shoots.

Using a simple lighting setup, Karl demonstrates how to light shiny metal surfaces and highlight important details in precious gems such as diamonds. Using one bare bulb, Karl shows you how to make use of reflectors to create a soft wraparound light, a technique that was key to achieving this stunning image.

You’ll be able to follow each step as Karl tests his individual lights, experimenting with lighting ratios and positions before reaching the final shot. You’ll also learn a few simple tricks that will help you make products such as diamonds truly sparkle.

In this jewellery photography class we cover the following:

  • Product photography: How to photograph jewellery
  • Jewellery photography tips
  • How to photograph shiny metal surfaces
  • How to create soft wraparound light
  • Using reflectors for product photography
  • Selecting backgrounds and props for jewellery photography

If you missed the Gemstone necklace shoot, you can watch it here. You can also learn more about jewellery photography in our Rings photography class.

If you have any questions about this class, please leave them in the comments box below.

NOTE: This photography class is available with English subtitles.

Comments

  1. Hi Karl,
    As a new member, I was browsing through the available content and came across this video on photographing a diamond necklace. It was very informative and I look forward to watching the other tutorials on this series. I have one question, re the your use of lens choice plus extension tubes. Is your lens a macro and are the e.tubes to get closer focus? Further, in this type of photography, do you aim for front to back focus? Please advise including your choice of f.stop. Thanks and Regards,
    VJ

  2. I have been doing quite a bit of wine bottle product work and lately some jewelry shots. Just as a side mention, the space where I can work is somewhat limited in size and I have been fighting with reflections of white ceilings and other walls which seem to reflect the stray light as it bounces. Often I have to drape black fabric wherever I can to reduce those issues. I first started with vellum paper scrims that were maybe 5 feet high and 3 feet wide, but I noticed they stop in the bottles as they appear vertically. I’ve ordered some nylon fabric what will give me 5 feet width and 12 feet length, but have not received them yet. I am going on the premise that to get continuous reflections I need to extend the scrims as far as possible and let the light naturally fall off. For jewelry, the reflections seem more to be about width, at least so far in the items I have been working with. I notice you are using a very wide flat white surface. Is that all about getting those nice reflections that don’t seem to stop abruptly and fall away? I guess where I’m going here with a question is the size of the scrim, or flag, or reflected surface.. is the approach to use, as large as manageable a surface, as a mostly universal solution or is it quite variable in circumstances that depend on the situation?

    1. Hi Gary, a large white base surface is essential for some shiny items like jewellery or glasses depending on your camera view point as a lot of the base surface is going to bounce into the product so the bigger area it is sat on can help. As for the scrims, my scrims are 2.3m x 1.5m so I’m not sure why you’re struggling with your sizes. For your room black fabric around the walls and black foam board stuck to the ceiling will all help as will painting the room dark grey or black.

      1. I recently heard a bit of advice from another photographer using a practice of reflecting light using a grey surface to help in creating softer fall off reflections. You did mention using grey surfaces in the presentation. Are we just talking white card with a coat of paint (or similar result) ? I haven’t tried that yet with bottles. Perhaps I will post an image in the facebook group to point out the issue. I haven’t seen an example here, but I am a new member and just scratched the surface on the content.

        1. Hi, yes some photographers use off white or grey for quicker fall off, for example Tim Wallace car photographer who is a friend of mine recommends a 10% grey (off white) for car coves. However I prefer white and I just angle my lighting accordingly or change beam on a fresnel or grid to change the fall off. If you can post some pics in the group and write with arrows the problem and take a BTS of your setup we can take a look at it. Email it in or bring it up on the upcoming weeks chat show. Please email Sara at the site with the image to pass on to me.

  3. Hey
    I would like to know will snoot act the same as the pico light?
    If not, then what can be done to get the effect?

    1. Hi, a snoot can be similar in results to a picolite with a projection attachment but not quite as precise.

  4. It’s interesting that some of the most important pieces are the ones you don’t see! Great tutorial Karl.

  5. Hello, I am Ali from Saudi Arabia, and I am not good at English. I have benefited greatly from your scarce. Thank you

    1. Hi, thank you. Also please note that most of our courses have subtitles in English if that helps.

  6. Hey Karl, I was wondering that what will be the light setup for a job where the client wants to showcase his/her jewelry on a model (maybe a portrait-length shot). I’m stuck with this please help. Thank you.

  7. Hi, I am new to photography and started with gold coated stuff. It is hard obviously but trying make something out of it. I see that you are using white acrylic as a light diffuser instead of lee 216 diffuser for jewels. So I search but there lots of thicknesses and versions of acrylic. Can you be a bit more specific ? Thanks

    1. Hi, it comes in 3 or 5mm thick usually. Both work well it just depends how stiff you want it, so if you are using it horizontally you might want the thicker one.

      1. Thanks, I didn’t get to that video yet, it’s my first month here and i’m watching one video after the other, i’m overwhelmed with knowledge :))
        the reason i ask is because the clamps I go ton ebay keep breaking too, i guess then it happens to all of us

  8. Hi Karl!

    Thank you so much for beautiful explanation on shooting jewelry.

    My question in how to light jewelry when you shoot for E-commerce where you need pure white background and same result for like 20-40 jewelry with minimum post processing?

    Bhavik

    1. Hi Bhavik, then I would imagine a set up more similar to our ‘Rings’ example would be suitable and possibly with the use of an electronic turntable below so that you can easily turn the objects. Also look at the shoot with did on the ‘kettle’ as a similar but larger setup.

  9. Hi Karl,
    Can I use acrylic sheet when shooting wine bottles or any other products? Or there is a reason why you are choosing the diffusion paper fro Lee?
    Regards,
    Alex

  10. Hello Karl, really nice result.
    But what are you using to diffuse the main light coming from behind?

    tsk

    Thomas Tebet

  11. Hi Karl

    If one was to shoot only jewelry, what would be the minimum scrim size would you recommend?

    On you other product photography courses, you have recommend using large scrims , 4ftx4ft and even larger. But considering that jewelry is small and in a home studio environment manipulating large scrims and a whole bunch of c-stands could be a challenge, what will be your suggestion?

    Amit

  12. Hi Karl.

    I would like to clarify my point about the possible use of laser light to create specular highlights and also to add a common sense warning.
    Laser can damage the camera sensor just as it can damage ones eyes if it either shines directly into the camera sensor or reflects off something like the diamond facet.
    My question above therefore is not about about shining the laser only at the diffusion material to create a very hard light source on the diffusion material but NOT to ever use it as a direct light source onto the product.
    I apologise for not making that clear in my previous question.

  13. Looks really nice Karl and also loved your graduated light over the black card as a background.

    My question is, would a white small laser light(s) aimed at the diamonds with a long exposure and main flash firing on first shutter curtain work to create the sparkle instead of using the pico light and having to combine the shots after in post?

    1. Hi Peter, any small point light source that you can focus to a specific point should work. As you said you can combine a longer exposure with continuous light to achieve it, you may just need to gel your light source.

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