Photographing Diamonds

I’ve shot a lot of products over the years but when it comes back to photographing jewelry, HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH DIAMONDS is always a tough one. Especially when there are 250 diamonds on one piece! Diamonds are NOT all the same color— meaning if you’re shooting a piece with 30 diamonds you’re going to see a difference in color. The more you blow it up the more you’ll see a color difference.

What are the variables? Well, I’m NOT a gemologist, but I would assume the cut and the natural color of the stone along with how it’s placed in the setting will make a difference. And I’m not even referring to “colored stones” or the color-treated diamonds. There you have to deal with all sorts of issues deep blues, light blues, reflections, etc.

The Light Setup I use

I’ve tried all types of light setups from LED’s to Florescent, tungsten, and strobes, I don’t lean to any one of them in particular. I suppose if I were looking for a warmer temperature maybe for gold or colored yellow diamonds I might shoot with Tungsten lamps, as that color temperature runs around 3000 — 3380 Kelvin.

Fluorescent Lights run anywhere from 3200 to 7000 but I shoot with 5000 Kelvin lamps in general. So it’s a little cooler. What I find more of an issue is keeping the glare off the diamonds, and trying to get a somewhat consistent color out of the piece. I find if you shoot straight into the piece you won’t get the surface glare that comes from shooting on a cross angle.  A light diffuser is a must, however. I use the photo booth picture.

Light meters, gray cards, and custom white balance are all good things to have to lessen the variables. As you will have enough to deal with.

Diamond Facts

  • The Diamond is the hardest natural substance found on Earth
  • Diamonds are made of just one element – Carbon
  • Most diamonds were formed 1 to 3 billion years ago
  • If you picked up a diamond in the rough it would look just like a pebble
  • The largest diamond ever found was 3,106 carats
  • Diamonds come in a spectrum of colors, blue and pink are among the rarest
  • Diamonds sales have grown three-fold in the past 25 years
  • Arkansas is the world’s only diamond mine open to the public and is a dig-for-fee operation for tourists and rock enthusiasts. One out of 100 visitors finds a diamond.

Colored Diamonds

Out of 10,000 carats of diamonds mined, only 1 carat will be a fancy color. Out of Australia’s mine 30 million carats a year, less than 1/10th of 1% are pink diamonds

Color-treated Diamonds

Color-treated diamonds are regular natural diamonds that were color enhanced. The main methodology is called High-Pressure High Temperature or HPHT

Let me know if you have questions.

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