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ronk15a

How Do You Photograph Loose Diamonds: Clear, Sharp, And Color Accurate?

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I know I’m asking a question that most people either don’t know how to answer or don’t want too for obvious reasons.

 

If discussing this is bothersome or intrusive to anybody’s business I apologize, and completely understand and encourage going PM to discuss this matter.

 

I’m looking to know how to photograph diamonds loose with superb quality, and consistency.

 

Information I would like to discuss: The type of camera, light box, artificial lighting, natural lighting, background colors and materials. How you hold the stone and photograph it at the same time, and how all these things are used interchangeably to get the best possible image/images.

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Some tips here: http://www.diamondre...h__1#entry35619

 

Personally, I find quality has a lot to do with focus - the better you are able to get the camera to focus on the piece (with a decent depth of field), the better the picture comes out. A camera that does allows you complete control over focus and aperture is the ultimate, but at the end of the day you can take pretty good images with a point-and-shoot camera.

 

I think part of the issue is that a diamond (or a piece of jewellery - perhaps even more so) looks very different depending on the environmental factors you have listed above: lighting and surroundings. So to some extent "consistency" is a matter of what you want to portray: a consistent environment (e.g. light box) will result in consistent photos in that environment, but that may or may not be representative of the environment in which your customers look at the stone. And of that in which they or you will look at the stone tomorrow.

 

I have a very nice pink-red rubellite. In artificial light, the stone looks very much like high quality Burma ruby:

P1000732.jpg

 

Take the ring out in sunlight (and thus get some UV in the rubies), and the picture changes completely. Haven't yet taken a photo in natural light, but I got a ruby ring back from Gubelin yesterday and did the test in the sun yesterday afternoon. What seems very similar in artificial light suddenly looks very much unlike (and makes you understand why rubellite is far less pricey than ruby, rarity aside).

 

Here's another example of how things can change in a visible way:

P1020118.jpg

vs.

P1020116-1.jpg

 

The ring is 1960s Mauboussin with a Ceylon sapphire. The earrings I had made in 2010 with a pair of Burma sapphires - which however match the ring reasonably well. The first photo is in natural light, and shows that reasonable match. The second photo is using a mixture of fluorescent and halogen light, plus a little help from flash. End result: very visible differences in the stones colours. Which are there, don't get me wrong. But nowhere near as visible, and all three stones look in "average conditions" much closer to the oval on the bottom in the lower photo than they do to any of the other colours portrayed in the photos. So which one is a "better photo"?

 

Holding and photographing is a mess. You need to be blessed with good dexterity and be able to hold the hand with the tweezers very steady, OR buy locking tweezers, a grey pad and arm yourself with the patience of Job.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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First of all thanks for taking so much time with this response. I can definitely see the difference in the sapphire image both in natural and artificial lighting where as in natural lighting the Burma sapphire explodes, and the Ceylon just stands out. Gubelin is my only lab when it comes to colored stones. It would be interesting to see the above rubellite bangle in natural lighting as opposed to artificial.

 

Getting back to images: I hear whet you are saying. Thanks for the link. I never tried taking an image in a light box; I’ve tried tents before and thought the quality was horrible. Someone recommended a Compact Photo Light Box….

 

David I assume you use an SLR camera, tripod, box with gray colored background, and a handy pair of locking tweezers for eBay and your website? (and years of experience). Am I missing something else? Your pictures have been amazing since early 2000….keep it up!

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It would be interesting to see the above rubellite bangle in natural lighting as opposed to artificial.

Hee hee. The rubellite is the large one in the ring. The two invisibly set pieces are both rubies. Will take a natural light photo as soon as time and weather allow. Here's the rubellite in natural light from above.

 

P1000730.jpg

 

Re: equipment. You'd be surprised. The photos on the site are taken with a variety of cameras (and not by me, but by the other David),but mostly with pocket cameras (much easier to hold with one hand, while the other is holding the stone). Sometimes a lightbox is used, but most are in natural light.

 

On the forum it's my photos, and I use no tripod, no SLR and no tweezers - then again I take very few photos of loose stones. My background is a jewellery tray - unless it's obviously something else like a flower.

P1000164.jpg

 

There's a fair amount of practice, and about 1 in 5 now comes out good enough to show to others.

Edited by davidelevi

Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Oops i didn't see that! (i don't know how i missed it) but it looked like one weird organic bangle. re: your equipment; I'm shocked.

well whatever you use "it works really well" ron

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David's pictures and tips are excellent. The key to taking high quality pictures of loose diamonds with some consistency is primarily about lighting, focus and depth of field.

 

We take pictures of fancy shapes on a dark surface with daylight equivalent overhead lighting using a point & shoot camera. This allows for nice side by side comparison pictures which show clear distinctions in size and shape appeal. These pics also almost always clearly depict any noticeable difference in brilliance as well, though occasionally a stone looks darker in a photo than in person because of the angle it is sitting at. Being on a stable surface means only having to worry about shooting with a steady hand (which takes practice), rather than keeping the diamond still as well. For accuracy and consistency we use the same set up and lighting for all face shots. I think spot lighting tends to create too much glare which makes for an inaccurate representation of the stone and difficulty to properly focus.

 

post-109884-0-88236300-1350324746_thumb.jpg post-109884-0-54227200-1350324883_thumb.jpg

 

The subtle color differences of diamonds is something that is virtually impossible to accurately assess in images. In trying to show a large discrepancy in color we will photograph diamonds face down, in a color card, with the same set up as the pictures above.

 

post-109884-0-40155100-1350324903_thumb.jpg

 

We've found that round stones do not photograph as well face up with the same setup, without photographing through a tube, which in my opinion mutes the overall appearance of the stone. So, for rounds we use the gem microscope for the full face shot. We also use the microscope for additional face images of fancy shapes and for highly magnified images of inclusions. We use the same camera as we do for the other face shots but attach it to the microscope with an adapter. The microscope also has spring tweezers which holds the stone so you don't have to and allows you to adjust the angle. For the highly magnified images we use backlighting to accentuate the inclusions, so they are easy to see for identification purposes, helping the customer to make an informed decision.

 

post-109884-0-25286600-1350324920.jpg

 

You can see in the microscope face shots of the round brilliant cuts that they also nicely show distinctions in light return and symmetry. The picture on the far left having noticeable light leakage indicated by the black ring in the center.

 

post-109884-0-38785300-1350325023.jpgpost-109884-0-47832700-1350325044.jpgpost-109884-0-34829200-1350325061.jpg

 

When it comes to photographing jewelry, we use a completely different setup.

 

I hope this is of continued help. It definitely takes practice and experimentation to get great photos. Even after years of doing this I still throw out more pics than I keep, mainly due to difficulty in obtaining the crispest focus.

  • Like 1

Laurent George
Diamond Ideals
New York City

www.diamondideals.com
212-207-4845
laurent@diamondideals.com

 

 

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Thank you Davide.

 

We've refined our technique over the last 10 years and feel that good pictures help people make informed and confident decisions.


Laurent George
Diamond Ideals
New York City

www.diamondideals.com
212-207-4845
laurent@diamondideals.com

 

 

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Hermann - is it worth sticking this thread into the hall of fame or appending it/linking it to the other thread?

 

http://www.diamondreview.com/forum/topic/7845-how-do-you-photograph-a-diamond/page__p__35619__hl__+photo%20+tips__fromsearch__1#entry35619


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Hello

I am new to photography. For work I was given a camera, tripod, and photobox. I have learned through trial and error. A tripod is a must. A macro lense is not necessary but a plus. Lighting is important but not everything... and then I have learned that there is alot of behind the scenes work going on in photoshop. I however am not a fan of too much editing for it can be deceving. Recently I had a customer form overseas ask to see the diamond before he purchased it. Now I have the photobox.

Q.1 Should I use a black plexi glass surface? Wouldnt a white one make the diamond look cleaner? Although it would loose the nice pop out contrast.

Q.2 Is it enevitable to not have the camera be in the reflection of the diamond? What is a tube? I imagine a cylinder prop to avoid this?

Q.3 A microscope camera and adapter is something for future I would love to have. Any reccomendations. I know nothing about microscopes and I see online they vary in price. I don't want to be stingy on price and regret it later.

Q.4 Any setting reccomendations for the MK Digital Direct Phot e Box Plus?

 

Thank you thank thank you in advance for anyone who takes the time to answer my questions.

Have a blessed day!

                                                                                                              

Sarah

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In regards to loose diamonds or mounted rings where the diamond/ and or gem is the most important element. Try point and shoot, 10mega-pixel+ all different lighting scenarios, no flash, grey or neutral background. The camera should be no more than 12" from object. Focus is key. Most important thing is experience, experience, experience. If you want to see in my opinion the best shots of diamonds/accurately/ shot with no Photoshop: look no further then diamondsbylauren.

In regards to jewelry: rings/necklaces/bracelets etc… were the diamond/ and or gem is there but NOT crazy important. Try: Tripod, SLR, macro lens, lighting control, object placement, focus, and background. :)
 

Edited by ronk15a
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