Jewellery Photography – Rings

Whether you’re looking to photograph a $50 dollar pair of handcrafted earrings or a $15 000 diamond ring for an advertising campaign, knowing how to photograph jewellery is a useful skill for any photographer.

This product photography class provides solutions to some of the most common challenges associated with jewellery photography, including controlling reflections on shiny surfaces and working at close magnification.


  • Controlling reflection on shiny surfaces
  • How to light small objects on a white background
  • Getting sufficient depth of field at high magnification
  • Best camera settings for product photography


  • Create a light cone to remove reflections
  • Gradient light with pockets of light to highlight key areas
  • Use focus stacking to get the whole image sharp
  • Select a small aperture for maximum depth of field, low ISO and highest sync speed

You can watch the retouching process and focus stacking technique for this shoot in the accompanying post-production class.

To overcome the problem of unwanted reflections, I created a light cone, which I placed over the rings. This blocked out any reflections and allowed me to create that graduated lighting that is so great for jewellery photography.

Creating a light cone for jewellery photography

Creating a light cone to reduce reflections on the rings.

The next step was to light the rings. I started with my fill light (a bare bulb point light source), before gradually adding a few more to highlight key elements and add some extra sparkle. Although I used picolites with projection attachments for this shoot, you could achieve the same effect with a tight snoot.

Lighting setup for jewellery photography

The effect of each individual light.

The final stage of the shoot was the focus stack. Even though I was shooting at a small aperture, I couldn’t get sufficient depth of field due to the high magnification. Before I could start my focus stack, I had to finalise my lighting and ensure my camera was locked down (I use my Manfrotto Super Salon, but any sturdy tripod will work). Working in manual focus, I then took a series of images shifting the focus from the front (the diamond) to the back (my background surface).

Here you can see the first image of the focus stack, with the focus on the front of the diamond ring:

Focus stack for jewellery photography

The first image in the rings focus stack.

And here is the final image of the focus stack:

Focus stack for jewellery photography

The last image in the rings focus stack.

In the above image, the last of the focus stack, the focus point is at the base of the ring. I took a total of 12 images to ensure my whole image would be sharp.

Once I’d completed the focus stack, the next step was to put it all together in Photoshop. You can learn how I did that here.

The final image:

Rings photography final image

The final image of the rings jewellery shoot.

To read more about to photograph jewellery, visit our blog post where you’ll learn my top tips for jewellery photography. If you’re interested in watching more jewellery photography classes, I’ve put together a selection of courses you’ll find helpful below.

If you have any questions, please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This photography class is available with English subtitles.


  1. I’ve asked on another video but I’m afraid it might have gotten lost. Why is it that when I use a Standard 7″ Reflector on my strobe head my shadows seem to be less contrasty and when I don’t put anything on my strobe head my shadows are sharper? Seems counter intuitive.

    1. Hi Charles, because the 7inch reflector makes the light source bigger and based on the physics the larger the light source the softer the shadow edges will be. The hardest edge shadows come from a point light source. Of course in a small white room a bare bulb lamp is a smaller light source but the shadows will also be affected by bouncing light from around the studio so although the edges of the shadow will be sharper they may not be as dense – this is all covered in our ‘Lighting Theory’ section.

    1. Hi Daniel, there is only the focus stack work for these rings but this type of clean up work is covered in our Photoshop for Photographers course which is best to watch from beginning to end.

  2. Hi Karl,

    Would love to try this but I’m struggling to find acetate large enough, any recommendations? Or is there an alternative to use?

    Many thanks and Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Rachel, Acrylic sheets are readily available in sizes up to 3m x 3m and sometimes bigger. Common sizes that I purchase are 1m x 1.2m and 50cm x 50cm but they can be cut to any size – One of the quickest places to purchase is from any sign service company. I’d recommend the 5mm thick sheets for stiffness but 3mm thick can also work it just bends a bit. If you are placing a bigger order then are a good supplier.

  3. Hi Karl,

    You shift the focus in the software. How to shoot stack images on a 35mm camera without having the ability to change the focus in the software?

    1. Hi, you can use Helicon Software and their lens adaptors that allow you to shift focus in the software. Some proprietary software also allows you to shift focus on some 35mm cameras as does Capture One.

  4. i learnt so much but at the same time i few questions that new to me.

    1) is there a specific video how to calculate the ratio of light or the explanation of it?

    2) is there any other option or ways to shoot rings other than using this cone method?

    3) is there a method to shoot ring for catalog with all white background without cropping the ring?

    1. Hi,
      1. Lighting ratios don’t need to be calculated all you need to understand is the value of a one stop change in light. For example changing from power 9 to power 8 is 50% less light, and from 8 to 7 is 50% less light again and so on. You then adjust your light up and down in increments of 1/10th of an fstop if necessary until you arrive at the desired exposure. With metallic objects you also have the physics of direct reflection exposure which is covered in many of our live shows.
      2. Yes any method that wraps the light and surrounds the subject can be used such as the technique with the Kettle in the product section.
      3. When you understand lighting by working through all of the Lighting Theory and Equipment section and then through many of our product courses you will realise that there are many methods such as our pack shots course but which method is best will depend on which angle you want to shoot the ring. The cone method is probably the easiest in many ways but it depends on how you want them to look.

  5. Hi Karl. Thank you for your amazing content. I have learnt so much in just a few days!

    What is your opinion on light tents? I currently own two lights, one continuous Godox light and one Neewer flash light. I make jewellery and would like to improve my photography but I am unsure whether to buy the EZ light tent seeing as I noticed you do not use standard light tents for product photography – rather you create your own setups every time. Unfortunately I cannot afford to replicate the setups like this one with so many special lights! Do you have any advice?

    I find jewellery tricky to photograph, particularly silver jewellery as it is difficult to control reflections and often, once I have achieved a pure white background, half of the piece has disappeared because some reflections are also white! Maybe a pure white background is not ideal for photos of white metal? For example in this tutorial the background is a light grey. Is this because pure white backgrounds are not recommended?

    I’m sorry if you already answered these questions in a tutorial I might have missed! Thank you for your time and again, for the fantastic lessons.

  6. Hi Karl,
    do you usually prefer using close space as cone for shoot metal ring or do you think is better to use open space with some scrim to have more control, achieve gradients on metal and use empty space between them to create hards edges?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi CM80, for jewellery I’m afraid it would all depend on the object as everything has different shapes/angles etc. I’d study the object before I decided on how I was going to light it based on the angles. I’m afraid in photography there’s no one best thing for everything, there’s just what’s best for a given scenario.

  7. Hi Karl. Can I recreate this shot with led lights? I would need to slow down the shutter to about 1/20th.Let me know if its doable.Thanks

    1. Hi, Yes if the rings don’t move, the LED lights are a good CRI and you reduce the shutter speed and make sure there is no other light pollution.

  8. Hi Karl,

    Nice video! Just wanted to know if you can show us your editing process on editing silver jewellery and if you could, can you please do more jewellery tutorials, please.


      1. Hi Karl, maybe you can explain me why you use the acrylic sheet? English is not my native language and I watched the video 3 times but I don’t understand why you used the acrylic sheet, thanks for all your videos that are amazing, good stuff to learn!
        By the way could I use a Non macro lenses for this type of photography? Could it be a tele? Sorry if it’s a silly question!

        1. Hi, many people find the white surface with a reflection attractive which is why we use the acrylic sheet. A macro lens is better, extension tubes will also work with the correct lens, a telephoto may work if it has a close focus / macro mode.

  9. Hi Karl,
    We are following you since we’ve started our photography business.
    Within’ these days our photography job turns to product photography especially
    We need more of your experience about these kinds of shoots.
    Gold is a very hard material for shooting.
    There are a lot of kinds for these gold rings, bracelets etc.
    Can you make a video for people sayin’ “yellow gold” with diamonds?
    Thanks for everything.
    Regards fromTurkey ANTALYA…

    1. Ayhan, thank you for joining us. I can tell from your comments that what you are hoping for is a quick and easy solution to photograph this item. You must stop and think a minute and ask yourself a few questions. Do you think you could give me any product and I would know how to photograph it or work out a way to do it? The answer is yes I would but I’d have to work it out. The reason I can work it out is because I understand about how light works and how we modify light and control it for each type of subject. Whether it is gold is only one thing, shape is another, angle is another, choice of background is another – there are many factors to creating a great photo and I cover them all on this platform but it is never just one thing. The most important thing is this and really understanding it – When you really know this and I mean really know this then you will be able to answer most of your own questions. In photography and specifically lighting it is all based on physics, angles, intensity, size etc. when you know these things it is possible to know how to photograph a ring, a car or a horse.

  10. Hi Karl, I was wondering what would be the approach if we want hard shadows instead of soft (shadowless) and without overexposing the rings and still to be able to control the reflections. I saw that trend recently from different companies like Tiffany and Bulgari. Thank for your time.

    1. Hi, I often put hard light on my jewellery shots to add sparkle to stones but it’s in combination with soft light to give nice gradients in the metal. If you see a shot with nice gradient in the metal and a strong shadow from a dominant hard key light then the soft gradients in the metal were done as a separate shot and they were combined in post production.

  11. Hi Karl
    Great tutorial. I’m stuck with the cone. I’ve tried making one myself with no success at all. I’ve looked at for one but can’t find one. So I’m wondering if you might be able to produce an outline drawing of the flat shape with measurements so I can get it printed out and use as a template to cut out the expensive diffusion material and clear acetate.

    1. Hi Jason, roll a small piece of paper (letter size) into a cone with sellotape, experiment with a few sheets and then cut the necessary hole. Once you’ve got one that looks pretty good, unstick it, lay it out flat and measure it and then scale the measurements up for your final version.

  12. Hello,
    Thank you for all the wonderful videos

    how much not owning a Hasselblad camera affect the quality of photos…
    will I ever to do high end project without it? or is it a must once you’ve reached a high level of knowledge and client base to get it?

    1. Hi, many photographers shoot product images with high resolution 35mm cameras and use very good lenses on them, but the more clients you win and the bigger your clients get you will often find photographers moving towards medium format but this isn’t something that should stop you doing product photography initially.

  13. I have secured a very expensive ring for a shoot. I will be attempting this very soon based on this lesson. Looking forward to the challenges from the lighting to the focus stacking and composing the final image. Should be a great learning experience!

  14. Hi Karl

    1. Is the small aperture the reason you are not getting more hot spots on the metal? i would imagine with 4 lights in such close proximity would have burn out the metal.

    2. If you know that you will be doing focus stacking, then aperture as it relates to depth of field matter? or in such scenarios one should use the aperture to control the light coming in, specially when your strobe cannot go any lower.

    3. When photographing jewelry with gemstone and diamonds (like the Aquamarine necklace you did), will it be better to first light up the stones and then introduce the broader fill light?


    1. Hi Amit,
      1. I’m not getting hot spots on the metal because I have the power of my lights low and/or the aperture small
      2. It is still better to have as much depth of field as possible as this will help the focus stacking process
      3. I can’t see that the order will matter, but it’s always best to try and do them all together as one shot if that works.

  15. Hello Karl,

    Thanks for your great modules!
    As am specializing more in jewelry and loose gemstone photography, some clients are asking me for resolution as high as 600 ppi in order to have for example a 4mm diamond printed as big as an A4 size. I am currently using a canon 6D with 100 micro lens and the maximum am having is 300 ppi. how can I overcome this challenge? what new equipment do you recommend I invest in ?


    1. Hi Marya, the only way you can increase the ppi for a given size is to shoot with a higher megapixel camera. The Canon 6D is 20mp so you would need to consider a 40mp or more camera.

  16. I Karl,

    Can we know the size of the cone, height and width? Or do you make them in different sizes for example if it’s only one ring?

    By the way great results, I’am amazed about the simpliciti of the setup and never thinked on using a bare bulb!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, I’d just make them to size based on the size of the lens you are using and the size of the object you are shooting. Foba make some ready made ones out of acrylic too. You can do lots with bare bulb and diffusion scrims and acrylic as you will learn in many sections on Karl Taylor Education.

  17. Hi Karl,

    Can I use a simple paperboard to create the light cone or do you recommend some specific material? What can I use to don’t change the color and have a good result?

    Thank you ! 😉

  18. Hi Karl, you use changing focal points to stack the images,
    What about a micrometric sliding plate? when and how to use it?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Andrea, I’ve never used one but I know some photographers that do. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with it myself.

  19. Hello Karl,

    how do you ensure in this case without exposure meter for an identical exposure of the white background in the event that different rings should be photographed, but the surface should be identical – because the photos should appear side by side?

    Many thanks from Germany

    Gert Lapoehn

    1. Hi Gert, in the software that I’m using to shoot the pictures I can measure the RGB values very precisely from any specific point and then I can compare those values with any new image, so there is no need for a light meter, the tethered shooting software is far more accurate.

  20. Hi Karl,
    as you mention it seems to get really challenging to achieve specularity with this small light cone.
    Would you build it like this again or would you create a bigger one – or would you maybe try a different solution?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Jens, I’d build it again like this as the control on the smooth lighting is so easy for the metal. I’d consider taking the cone away though and then lighting the diamonds separately or making a hole and inserting a fibreoptic light (like used on the live cheese shoot) to find some specularity.

  21. Hi Karl,

    Great tutorial!

    What is the purpose of that plastic you put under the Lee diffusion material? Tnx

  22. Hi Karl,

    Great tutorial as always. I am aware that you are not to keen on continuous LED lights, but if one was doing only jewelry photography then would you consider using continuous light like the Broncolor F160? Would you also considering fashioning some sort of a flexible acrylic paneling system to make it more of a table top setup?

    Barry, i find orthodontics wax to be the best when it comes to mounting jewelry. It is easy to come off and will not damage the polishing. Nice effort with the continuous lights, may I know what type of lights are you using?


    1. Thanks for the glue tip Amit.

      The lights are various:

      Some are high intensity, high CRI LED strip lights (not the cheap ones) that I’ve fashioned into shapes to mimic soft boxes. Then using LED drivers and variable transformers I can control the intensity. All rather DIY, but I thought I’d be able to shape the lights this way rather than use off-the-shelf LED panels.

      The rest of the lights are high CRI LED bulbs, again with DIY electronics to control light levels. I’ve been careful to match the colour temperatures.

      It’s early days for me, but with the latest LEDs the options seem to opening up (for static objects). It’s been way cheaper too to set up, which is nice.

    2. Hi Amit, I really like the new F160’s because of the way the light is dome shaped and they have a very high CRI so in that respect I’d have no problems using them for jewellery.

  23. Another very useful video Karl. One question: what did you use to glue the rings without damaging them ? I assume it is some sort of rubberised glue that rubs off – it will be essential that it comes off cleanly.

    So far I’m repeating variants of your course shots with only continuous LED lights (examples are up on my website I mention this as by using long exposures I can also light paint some shots, which adds options to some compositions – in case anyone is reading this …

    Many thanks, again …

    1. Hi Barry, thank you. The glue is a standard glue stick for a heat glue gun. It sets hard but peels of easily from most surfaces.

  24. Hello,Karl I have a question, why you do not use a tilt-shift lens, do not get the same result as the focus stack? I’m thinking if I should buy a tilt-shift lens or continue doing focus stack, thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Mauricio, a tilt and shift lens wouldn’t be of value in this instance as the plane of DOF was already similar to the camera. When you use a tilt and shift lens it is usually to correct a plane of DOF that is different to the standard line of DOF – see this chapter to see this you will see that the products are laying in a plane that is different to the angle of the camera, also in many macro cases even with a tilt and shift it won’t cover DOF enough and only in one direction as per the video link. For example it would work on a watch face but not so much the whole watch but you can also use stacking with tilt and shift.

  25. Hi Karl … I recently shot 28 wedding rings (sets of two LADY and GENT) and I initially struggled to eliminate reflections. I literally had to cover every surface in my small studio with white sheets. Your method is a very simple solution and time saver. Maybe the complexity of it is if the client needs various angles or positioning of the rings. For my case, it was easy to change positions and orientations of the rings without having to move anything around. I used a frosted acrylic on top with bare bulb which gave me amazing gradation on the rings, bottom I place a white which filled the shadows pretty well. I did not glue my rings since the client wanted the various orientations. I am learning alot from you. Keep up the good work. I am based in Kenya … visit us during your next holiday. Come enjoy the Safari experience, wildlife and beautiful beaches.

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