Do you have a scanner in your computer setup?
Flatbed scanners can be a great tool for photographing jewelry. For years I took all my jewelry photos this way. Scanners are fast, simple to use, and can take beautifully artistic photos.
I started out trying to photograph my jewelry with a cheap, older digital camera - but after a lot of time and frustration I realized that my camera was just not capable of getting close, clear jewelry photos.
So following the suggestion of a shop owner where I consigned some of my jewelry, I put a necklace on my scanner glass, shut the lid, and scanned it.
Wow! Even though the only backdrop the necklace had was the white inside of the scanner lid, I saw right away that the shot was much more clear than anything I'd ever achieved with my cheap digi-cam. And it was ridiculously easy!
So I really began pushing the envelope of scanning jewelry, and worked on developing different tricks to make my scanner shots better and better. Except for the occasional very 3-dimensional piece of jewelry like a cuff bracelet, or a ring, most jewelry photographs quite well with a scanner.
Although a flatbed scanner can't equal the sharpness and quality of jewelry photos taken with a high-quality digital camera, it can still produce very good images of your jewelry.
If you're on a tight budget or short on time, it's really hard to beat the fast, fabulous results of photographing mainly flat jewelry (which includes most necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings, anklets, etc.).
Learn more about photographing jewelry yourself and getting professional looking results.
What Kind of Scanner Takes Good Jewelry Photos?
Try taking some jewelry photos with the scanner you already have. If you're not thrilled with your results even after trying all the tips in this Hub, you might want to invest in a cheap 3-D scanner - available for well under US$99.
However, if you do decide to buy a scanner that's designed for scanning 3-dimensional objects, be sure it's not just a scanner with a lid that's engineered to close around a thick book on the glass (which is what some manufacturers will tell you is a 3-D scanner).
It doesn't matter what the lid can do; you're looking for a scanner that's designed to photograph a depth of field.
See more jewelry photography tips.
Tips for Taking Jewelry Pictures with Your Scanner
These tips will eliminate 99% of the problems involved in using scanners for shooting photos of beads and jewelry:
- Wipe the scanner glass clean. Even tiny specks of lint or dust come out looking enormous, dirty, and tacky in a jewelry photo.
- Place a clean, clear sheet of plastic (such as a page protector from an office supply store) on top of the scanner glass so the glass won’t be scratched by your jewelry or beads. When the plastic sheet starts to get a bit scratched from use, discard it and start a new one.
- Clean and polish your beads or jewelry to a jewelry-store shine, and wipe with a lint-free jewelry polishing cloth.
- Arrange your beads or jewelry on the scanner glass that's already covered by the plastic sheet protector.
- Place a background for your photo against the back of your jewelry or beads. There are all kinds of wonderful things you can use for backgrounds in your jewelry scans. Different colored or textured papers, lace, fabric scraps, flowers, leaves - look around and find something neat that would make a pleasing background for your photo. Just be sure it enhances the jewelry and doesn't distract the eye away from it. And if you have trouble with over- or under-exposed jewelry scans, try using a neutral gray or blue background.
- Place a small box on the scanner glass, somewhere out of the jewelry shot. The box is not part of your photo; its only purpose is to hold the scanner lid off of the back of your jewelry or beads, so that the lid doesn't knock them askew from the way you've just arranged them on the glass. Close the lid of the scanner so that it rests on the small box, safely off of your arranged jewelry.
- Cover the entire scanner with a dark cloth so no outside light can seep in around the edges of the scanner lid, since it's propped partly open by the small box.
Design Your Jewelry Photo for the Scanner
Okay, now the fun begins!
Set the piece of jewelry face-down on the clean scanner glass that’s covered by the clean plastic sheet protector. Turn the jewelry a bit, this way or that, till you get an appealing angle that’s appropriate for the piece.
For earrings, I’ve found that it’s a nightmare to try to make both of them perfectly vertical and perfectly parallel to each other, and anyway I think placing them at artsy angles to each other is much more visually intriguing and dynamic, and romanticizes the piece.
So don’t kill yourself trying to achieve a perfectly vertical earring shot, especially if the earrings have round beads that make them roll around.
For necklaces or chains, try different cool ways of swirling or coiling the strands or chain on the scanner glass for the photo. Be sure the clasp shows clearly. If the necklace has an extender, that should be clearly visible too. Make sure chains don’t look angled or awkwardly kinked.
Again, don’t try for perfectly vertical or horizontal shots — tilt the piece till you get a neat angle.
When your photo design is all set up on the scanner glass, close the lid against the small box (as in step 5 above) and press your pre-scan button.
When your scanner software shows you the pre-scan image, scrutinize the photo. Does the jewelry appear to its best advantage? Is a necklace clasp hidden by beads, or is one earring at too wacky of an angle? Is there a distracting wrinkle in the background fabric? Adjust whatever needs to be fixed, if anything, and pre-scan again till you get a good photo design.
When you like the pre-scan shot, use your scanner software’s cropping feature to make a nice, tight, closeup shot of your jewelry. Bring the edges of the crop as close to the jewelry as possible without cutting out any part of the jewelry or the slight shadow it has cast against the background. Most of the background will be cropped out, but make sure that any remaining background looks good.
Now make your final scan. The larger your scale and resolution percentages, the sharper the image. It also means the image's file will be bigger and slower, so experiment and use your discretion!
Send this final scan to disk or hard drive. Don’t remove your jewelry or background from the scanner glass yet. Wait till you see the picture in your photo editing software first, because you might want to make small adjustments to how the jewelry is arranged and scan it again.
Artistic Ideas for Scanning Jewelry
- Thread a ribbon, piece of lace, strip of velvet, long flower stem, or neat twig through pendant bails.
- If you’ll be using more than one shot of this piece, consider a photograph showing the back of the piece instead of a second view of the front (also with a different background), especially on items where the back showcases your craftsmanship.
- Experiment with small props such as tumbled stones, crystals, bamboo stalks, dried flowers, a lady’s fan, driftwood, a pine bough or pine cone, crocheted doily, leather or suede, autumn leaves, fake fur, seashells.
- Again remember to keep the jewelry the focus of the photo, and have only a small part of the prop in the photo—for example, just the ruffled edge of a seashell.
With just a little experimenting, you'll quickly find out the best way to get very professional-looking jewelry shots with your scanner.
Have fun with this jewelry photography technique!
Malika on June 10, 2012:
Dear Rena, I just love your work.
I am also a jewelry maker I work with a group of women in Afghanistan to help them support their families.
Our business is call Hope Creations
I recently developed a jewelry set which is call Mother's Love women who are making this beautiful jewelry set support their daughters go to school.
I would love to contact you and have your advice to develop this business and support more women in my country.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Burkni on April 05, 2012:
What scanner do you use? I've got a Canon lide and that just doesn't do the job... :( So I'm looking to buy another one but I'd really love to get some ideas of what to get.
Jew Jewel on August 05, 2011:
Whoff13 on March 08, 2011:
Rena, Thank you so much for all this information on scanning jewelry. I make hand-crafted Rosaries, and am planning on starting a website. I have been battling with my camera to try and photograph my Rosaries and could not get all the settings right. This has been such a blessing to me !!!
Dorothee-Gy from near Frankfurt/M., Germany on January 19, 2011:
Rena, this is really a wonderful hub! Thanks for the great idea and the detailed "how to"! I'll certainly also check out your blog...
Spider Girl from the Web on December 23, 2010:
Great idea, I've never thought about it!
ming on October 20, 2010:
you won't realised that your post is still useful since 3 yrs ago!
Claire on August 25, 2010:
I had no idea that you could use a scanner to make photographs...I always thought people just took pictures and then scanned them in! This gives me loads to think about!
JoanWit3 from OR on August 18, 2010:
That looks really cool. What an inventive mind! BTW I like that jewelry :-)
Carol Rucker from Cincinnati on July 27, 2010:
Thanks for sharing this wonderful technique. I've been listing jewelry online since the early days of the internet, and I've always used a scanner. The detail is amazing.
I'm on my second scanner. The first one lasted about 6 years. The current one is developing vertical streaks. Time for a new one!
P.S. Love your work!
Mazin on July 20, 2010:
Rena thanks for the great post. I'm also trying to catalog my jewellery using a scanner and currently researching and trying to figure out a good scanner for the same.
Could you suggest some good scanners for me?
Jewellery Photography on May 06, 2010:
very good post. I use also some wax to help standing up the rings, however I find that I need to edit out the wax on photoshop whhich can be lengthy at times.
charles hubert on March 20, 2010:
you must be a very successful jewelry designer. good luck on your every venture
Rena Klingenberg (author) on October 21, 2009:
Thank you! I'm so glad to know it's been helpful to you.
Yes, photographing rings is tricky on a scanner - it's difficult to get more than just a shot of the ring flat on the scanner glass, which can still be helpful if the customer wants to get a good look at the ring from that angle.
For ring shots using a digital camera, You can use a small amount of modeling clay or rubber cement to make your ring stand up by itself on a flat surface. Then put your digital camera on a tripod, stack of books, or whatever you have that will get your camera in the right position at a good angle for photographing the ring.
Don't use your camera's flash, as it only makes overly bright spots, reflection, and glare on jewelry. Indirect daylight is best, such as inside near a window during the daytime.
Use your camera's timer for taking the photo, so you won't make the camera move even the tiniest bit during the shot.
It takes some experimentation with a digital camera to find the best combination of lighting, location, camera settings, and distance from the piece of jewelry.
But once you discover the settings and other things that result in a great jewelry photo, write them all down so your future photos will be a snap!
Best of luck!
Quanita (South Africa) on October 21, 2009:
Hi Thank you for the wonderful tips, your website has been a great help. I have just started my jewelry business and I am findong it difficult to photograph my rings. Do you have any advice for me? I love the scanner idea but it obviously doesn't work for rings. I would appreciate your feedback.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on August 27, 2009:
I totally understand - that's why I started selling my handmade jewelry too! :o)
As far as uploading pics from your computer to wherever you want to post them online (such as on your own website, Etsy shop, Flickr, etc.) - most sites have a very simple "upload photo" function, where you click a button to browse through your hard drive and locate the photo you want to post, then click "upload" - then voila, your pic is posted!
Don't hesitate to experiment and try new things with your computer, the Web, etc. on your own. I think it's the best way to learn anything!
Art by Adrienne from Picayune, Ms. on August 26, 2009:
Hello!, I reached the point that I have to start selling or pawn my car to buy more beads, I'm sure you know the feeling, anyhow.. I must start with a computer class first. I do not even know how to load pic's! Is so frustrating!
Rena Klingenberg (author) on July 20, 2009:
You're doing the right thing by planning and setting up now. The best jewelry-selling time of year tends to be late September through Christmas - so by laying the groundwork now, you'll be all ready to sell and profit when the busy season hits!
Best of luck to you and your mom!
Laura G on July 18, 2009:
These are very helpful tips! I am so excited to try some of them out. My mom has been making jewelry for about two years, and we have just started trying to find ways to sell it. E-Bay has been kind of a flop for us because of the fees from them, but we are planning on a big party in October. With this particular tip of using the scanner, this has completely raised my excitement for making the invitations since I have all of it stored in my house. She makes what she can and sends it all to me for pricing and pictures, then we can sell to whomever we can. I am new here at Hub and after reading this from you, I can't wait to get started on my own stuff. Thank you so much for writing about this!
Rena Klingenberg (author) on June 13, 2009:
Great idea for lining your cardboard box with a nice background paper! Thank you so much for sharing your unique method of scanning jewelry.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on June 13, 2009:
Thanks so much for your kind feedback! I hope photographing your jewelry with a scanner is working well for you. Each scanner has its own "personality quirks", so you may have to play around with it a bit to hit on what works best for your particular model.
Best of luck to you!
Sonoma Gemstones from Northern CA Grape Growing & Wine Producing Region on March 31, 2009:
I've been scanning pictures of my jewelry for years. I do it a little differently. I arrange my item(s) on the glass as you described, but I don't close the cover. Instead I put two small gemstone containers at each end of the glass (out of the picture). Then I place a flat heavy cardboard box with a sheet of paper with a nice design pattern taped on one side (paper side down) on top of the two gemstone containers. This keeps the light of the scanner even on the background. The background box doesn't even touch the jewelry so it doesn't disturb my set up, and the background paper makes a great backdrop for the jewelry,
Meredith Crosby on January 22, 2009:
WOW Just what I was lookingfor. Read this article on your othersite too but really benifited from the pictures. I am gonna share this with all my crafter friends and am of to practice right now! I have been struggling with photoing my jewelry for a long Time! Thank you!!! I love all your info about selling and jewelry. Please keep up all the good work.
iris1971 on January 15, 2009:
I am constantly struggling with getting a decent photo. I'm definitely going to try this tonight!
tourmaline2777 from Chicago on December 31, 2008:
I have used the scanner for years to get jewelry pics. It is a great tool.
ZYNA on December 19, 2008:
Great job you are doing. Keep it up. Thanks, Zyna. (NIGERIA)
Rena Klingenberg (author) on October 07, 2008:
I'm glad you tried it and had good results, Ronny!
ronny morshal on October 07, 2008:
Did some photo's for my website with a scanner using your tips, Thanks
Zeo on September 26, 2008:
I would like to buy a new scanner... What model to best way to scanning jewels?
Peter from Australia on September 16, 2008:
Thanks a million , you've solved a problem thats been bothering me for ages.
I'm a fan.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on July 28, 2008:
It's also really handy if you want to photograph a batch of your jewelry all at one time - for example, if you're going to sell it on consignment and want to have a photo of the pieces you've submitted to the shop.
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on June 12, 2008:
Great tips for those without a digital camera.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on June 05, 2008:
I'm so glad you found it helpful, Mr. O.P. Gupta. I also use a Fuji Finepix digital camera for photographing my 3-D jewelry. It takes fantastic jewelry photos - once you've figured how all the settings should be for jewelry pictures! Still, I prefer using my scanner for relatively flat pieces, because it's quicker and easier.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on June 05, 2008:
Thanks, Patricia! Best of luck with your jewelry scanning adventures!
O.P.Gupta (Mr.) on May 29, 2008:
I have been using a scanner to scan images of my jewelry and beads for the past 6 years. I received good business with the help of these images. But I was always doubtful whether this was the right way of creating images. So I bought a semi-slr camera - FujiFilm FinePix S602Zoom - , which was quite expensive on my pocket. It can take pictures from a distance of even 1 cm in Super Macro Mode. First I learnt how to take pictures of objects by using this camera. But I was not satisfied with the end results. Now, after reading this article, I am very happy. My all doubts are cleared and I have again started using scanner. I use the camera only for 3-dimensional objects. Thanks to you for writing this article and uploading it for persons like me.
Patricia on May 09, 2008:
What a great tip! I can't wait to go home and experiment with scanning my jewelry.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on March 12, 2008:
Hope your polymer clay jewelry scans turn out better this time. I'd love to hear about your results this time around.
Cindy Lietz from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on March 11, 2008:
I've tried scanning my polymer clay jewelry in the past, and results were not good. But you've outlined some techniques here that make me want to try again. Using the box to rest the lid on is something I had not thought of. Thanks for publishing this information.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on March 09, 2008:
Thank you, David!
Hope your project works out well for you!
David Cowley on March 09, 2008:
Very interesting use of a scanner. It gave me a couple of ideas for a project I am working on. Thanks
Rena Klingenberg (author) on March 08, 2008:
You're very welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by. I think you'll be impressed with how easy it is to get really great jewelry shots with your scanner.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on March 08, 2008:
Actually, earrings are my addiction, and what got me into making jewelry in the first place. :o)
Denise on February 28, 2008:
I just want to thank you for all the information you put together. I had such problems photographing jewelry and didn't know where to start. I never thought to use the scanner. I had the problem of trying to hold the camera when I do have a tripod. Thanks so much!
SaraCoutodaSilva from Honolulu on February 25, 2008:
Wow! I like these earings!!! Congrats!!! Pretty cool!
Rena Klingenberg (author) on December 04, 2007:
Thank you kindly, Shippingrus.
I was also amazed at what great photos you can get with even a basic desktop scanner.
Back when I first started scanning my jewelry, I learned that a lot of eBay sellers were also photographing their small items that way.
Probably fewer people use their scanner as a camera now that really great digicams have gotten so affordable, but it's nice to keep it in mind as a backup!
shippingrus from USA on December 04, 2007:
Very interesting page. I would not have expected that one cold take such great pictures using a scanner.
Rena Klingenberg (author) on October 16, 2007:
Thank you, Peter,
Now that I'm doing so much writing and publishing, I'm selling my jewelry on a limited basis - but you're right about jewelry being a very popular gift.
It's given to (and by) people of both genders and all ages. I estimate that about 75% of all the jewelry I've made and sold over the years has been purchased to be given as gifts!
Rena Klingenberg (author) on October 16, 2007:
Thanks, James - after scanning my first few pieces of jewelry I realized that anything you can set on the scanner glass is fair game!
Most scans need some editing with PaintShop Pro (which I use) or PhotoShop - especially to correct contrast and resize the image for your specific use.
Good luck with your own scanning adventures!
Peter crump on October 15, 2007:
Hi Rena, lovely hub. That's some beautiful jewelry you've got featured there. It would make a beatiful gift.
rocamotive on October 14, 2007:
Rena, This is very helpful information. I had no idea that you could put anything other than paper or photos and books on a scanner and get such high quality images.
This is a much cheaper way to go than digital photography and will come in handy for some of my projects.