Photographing Jewellery

How to Photograph Silver Jewellery using Natural Light 1 - Thanks to The Silvery

Using baking parchment and any kind of structure you like to support it, you can use bright sunlight to create the softest of shadows and the gentlest luminescence in silvery jewellery.

Sunlight through baking parchment to photograph silver jewellery

These are shot from above and I moved the little piece of polysterene reflector backwards and fowards until the highlight on the jewellery was just right, showing enough texture and keeping the shadow to a minimum to allow for the brightness of just-polished, brand new silver jewellery.

Simple is lovely - don't mess with the product Photographing silver jewellery

Apologies for this post not being about natural light photography but these shots do provide a useful illustration of the beauty of simplicity. One again I'm delighted to show the simply stunning work of Jules Asch at The Silvery in Lewes, natural objects, plated in silver.

If you have a beautiful product let it do the work for you.  These are colour photographs but the range of colour tones is limited. There are no distractions from the designs that Nature made.

And now some boasting ...

.these are absolutely jaw-droppingly incredible – yet again!!! You are amazing, talented, skilful beyond compare – as usual you make my work look amazing and completely professional and knowing as I do how hard it is to get even a half-way reasonable shot of my work I just can’t begin to imagine how you achieve what you do!!!
— Jules Asch, The Silvery

Shooting jewellery with daylight - inside with grease-proof paper

Still using the grease-proof paper, but this time using the sunlight through a window.

I've wedged the roll of paper in place to the right of the picture and wrapped it around the outside of jewellery to provide a translucent and flexible lightbox.   The light is streaming through the window and being diffused by the paper. By placing a silver reflector on the side opposite to the window I've created an almost shadowless lighting situation.  A glow.  

My hand is holding the paper in place on the left of the picture and I moved the paper around as I shot to adjust the lighting as I liked. You have to shoot with at least 1/80 second because you're shooting one-handed.  Or you can fix the paper in place, I wanted to work fast and be responsive to the light.

With thanks to Margherita Hale at Punzi, 27 Station Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2DB. 01273 475476

Using the sunlight and grease-proof paper to photograph silver jewellery

Make the most of the sunlight!

In the top photograph the sunlight is direct, much too harsh.  In the shot below it I've placed my home-made light tent over the earrings, the strong summer sunlight is softened, there are enough shadows for texture and the silver glows.

It took me the duration of an episode of The Sopranos to make this little light tent.  I made one large wire circle, one small wire circle, connected them together by four wire struts and covered it all in grease-proof paper, leaving a hole at the top for the camera lens.

It's fun to try out different colours for the background for the jewellery.  I wouldn't have guessed how beautiful the blue would turn out to be.

These are Jules Asch's signature Dancing Feathers and can be found at

Photographing silver using natural light - The Silvery keepsakes

Jules Asch at The Silvery plated these five azalea flowers in silver as a keepsake, for a customer.  

Silver is tricky to photograph. It can looks tinny or bleached and often much too contrasty. I experimented with white polystyrene tiles and black cardboard next to a window on a sunny day. The silver and blue flowers are not in direct light, but on the edge of a pool of light, in order to avoid any contrast problems.

No reflection. Black on shadow side. 

No reflection. Black on shadow side. 

The black cardboard is reflected in the sides of the flowers.  The flowers look tinny, more like steel than silver.

The silver looks metallic rather than silvery.

The silver looks metallic rather than silvery.


White reflection on all three sides is too much. The white is reflected on all sides of the flowers, making them look white and washed out.

Too much. Now the silver looks bleached and flat.

Too much. Now the silver looks bleached and flat.

This was my favourite.  The white polystyrene tiles are propped up above and to the right of the set-up to provide a gleam and highlights for the silver but on the third side (out of sight at the bottom of the image) I moved the tile around, tipped it up and down and side to side until I had a range of highlights and shadows, dark and light. Neither burnt out nor metallic but a gentle range of silvery-grey tones.

How to Photograph Jewellery - Spring Sunshine and a Plastic Box

Now is the time to shoot jewellery outside  

Direct, bright sunshine is too bright, too harsh.   Highlights are burnt out, detail is lost.

Photographing in the shadows means the light is too flat, there is not enough contrast

Beauty - the distillation of emotion in a keepsake

Beauty is associated with purity and a keepsake holds pure emotion.

A little boy made a paper origami crane and his mother wanted to keep it, and keep it forever. She asked Jules Asch at The Silvery in Lewes to plate the tiny crane with silver and turn it into a pendant which the mother now wears with pride and joy

This is beauty on so many levels. Beauty in the expression of how special that child is, how much she loves him and what he makes and what he is, and the beauty of ordinary paper turned silver

That silver crane is a distillation of what she feels for her boy and what he means to her and she can carry this around with her forever

Keepsake commissions at The Silvery


All photography by Katie Vandyck at 100Designs