Jewellery Photography, Secrets of Success

Richard Bostock

Photographing jewellery is technically and creatively challenging. All those shiny surfaces, intricate designs, varied tones and colours can be tough to light. Tougher still is preventing flare, reflection, hot spots and well, need I go on?

For new jewellery businesses, investing in custom photography can feel quite daunting. But, if you’ve ever tried doing it yourself you’ll have worked out that there’s a lot involved in getting it right. The truth is, if you’re selling statement or investment pieces online you need imagery that matches the quality of your products. The only way of achieving this is to seek out a professional!

At Glassmint we love a challenge. Rick, our jewellery ‘guru’, is careful to consider the shoot requirements of each individual piece. He invited us to journey into his creative world and discover how he achieves glittering results.

“The brief for jewellery photography can be as vast as there are pieces," says Rick. "Some collections are handmade and seek a very natural finish, while others rely on more intricate editing." Regardless of the brief, or the price tag for that matter, Rick aims to make every piece look its best, giving it the creative respect it deserves. We asked Rick to share the secrets of his success:

1/ Use the right equipment.

"It sounds obvious but small gems and diamonds need to be magnified. I use high quality prime macro lenses to capture all the detail and full frame DSLR cameras for maximum resolution. The magnification is great for capturing every facet but it also captures the imperfections. Depending on the brief, imperfections may be worked on during post-production."

2/ Control the light.

“Sure, you need to create an environment that blocks out unwanted reflections. But, you also need enough light to bring pieces to life. Working in a confined space like a light tent will reduce reflections but generally results in flat, lifeless images, which isn't good. I prefer to control the shoot space using polyboards and then adjust my lighting accordingly for the correct amount of high and low light. I shoot for Pippa Small and her pieces often, incorporate moonstones and labradorite which, like diamonds react to light. This is why they are so stunning. By working in a larger space I can control the light and capture the best features of her pieces, preserving their three-dimensional qualities.”

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Labradorite Pendant by Pippa Small

3/ Prioritise sharp and steady.

“Jewellery imagery needs to be sharp but getting the whole piece in focus requires special techniques to battle the depth of field. I use a tripod to steady the camera and a technique called stacking to combine multiple shots into a sharp single image. This technique is great for pieces like engagement rings that need to be shown in focus from the tip of the diamond to the hallmark at the back of the ring band.”

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Gold ring by fine jewellery designer Leonid Dementiev

4/ Style and compose in keeping with the brand.

“Creative imagery is key here. Take Tatty Devine, for example, they create fun statement jewellery. They like creative shots that bring out their brand's personality. We use bold, colourful backgrounds textures and props to give their pieces context and delight their followers.“

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“From a photographers point of view, Tatty's collections need a lot of technical expertise. We are often working with mirrored surfaces, perspex, glass beads and iridescent materials. Not to mention amazing quirky designs that always present an interesting challenge!”

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Tatty Devine Orchestra Statement Necklace

5/ Understand the brief.

“Post-production, is often where brands put their stamp on their imagery. Fine jewellery brands often seek extensive retouch work for a beautifully polished finish. While artisan brands like Ishkar Jewellery, prefer a lot less retouch. Ishkar’s collections are handmade with handmade tools by craftsmen and women in war-torn countries. They like their imagery to be a true likeness, reflecting the origin of the pieces and the rugged philosophy of the brand.”

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Oculus gold and silver rings by Ishkar

I love the variety that jewellery offers. I can't quite decide if it's more a science or an art but I know a lot of what I do is intuitive. It sounds strange but, somehow, I connect with the pieces and visualise a final image in my mind. Then I use my creative instinct to bring that vision to life.

For help or advice with your jewellery photography, contact Rick at jewellery@glassmint.co.uk