Pictures of Gemstones
Capturing the brilliance and luster of a gemstone in a still photograph is not an easy task. Gems reflect light best when they are moving. Capturing the color accurately seems like it should be easier, but in fact it is not. Gemstone color changes in different kinds of light, and many gems are pleochroic, meaning they exhibit different colors when viewed from different angles.
You might conclude from this that video is the answer, not still photos. But one thing that a still photo can do is get very close to the subject, so that very fine details can be seen. This is a critical goal of any good gemstone photograph, particularly if the viewer is looking at the photo with a purchase in mind. A good gemstone photo can be almost as detailed as looking at a gemstone under 10x magnification with a jeweler's loupe.
We have taken hundreds of thousands of gem photographs over the years, and we think we've learned a few things along the way. Since we're in the business of selling gemstones, not photographs, our goal is not to produce beautiful photos. Rather we aim to produce photos which are as accurate and contain as much useful information as possible.
Since gemstones may show show different characteristics from different perspectives, we photograph each gem from 3 angles, including one shot that provides a detailed view of the pavilion (bottom half) of the gemstone. The different views of the gem allow the viewer to judge the proportions of the cut and the facet angles, as well as detect any inclusions that may be present.
We always take our photos under lighting that emulates natural daylight. But we change the color, texture and reflective properties of the background according to the type of gem we are photographing. Adjusting the lighting environment to get the best result is critical, but success only comes with trial and error.
There is one thing that detailed gem photos cannot show, and that is the weight and size of the gem. When we photograph our stones we always try to fill the frame with the subject, so you can see as much detail as possible. But this means that a 10 carat stone will appear the same size as a 1 carat stone! Occasionally a customer will contact us to tell us that the stone he received was much smaller or bigger than he expected. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but don't ignore the few extra words in the size and weight description.
One of the most important stages in our photography process doesn't involve the camera at all. Once our photos are done, our quality assurance team compares the photos to the physical gemstones to make sure the photos accurately represent the gems. This is the point at which we simulate the moment when our customer first unpacks his or her order. If our team is satisfied that the photos are accurate, we're confident that you will be pleased as well.
- First Published: March-06-2008
- Last Updated: February-21-2011
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