When my wife started selling vintage costume jewelry on Etsy, I naturally volunteered to do the photography for her. I've never done much studio work before, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on equipment until I had a little experience. So, for a studio, I started with a cardboard box, painted white inside with a hole cut in one side, some tracing paper for diffusion, and a daylight balanced florescent bulb in a reflector. It worked just fine. I took over 400 photos with it.
After 5 months with this setup, I have upgraded to White Box Version 2, along with a folding diffuser with stand and holder. Herewith, a brief tour of the latest in jewelry photography.
First, and most important, is the white box. Version 2 is 18 inches on a side, spray painted flat white, and has an open top and one open side. This makes it easier to position the light above, to the side, or in the front. (As a blog note, that's the famous Cork Board behind the box.)
Here's the lighting setup. Note the nice new light stand with diffuser holder.
For most jewelry, adding a white reflector above seems to enhance the look; so I place a piece of white matte board across the top of the box. You can get different looks by using other colors of board across the top.
The piece of jewelry goes in the box on whatever background you want. It's hard to see, but the background is tilted slightly toward the front of the box.
The camera positioned for the shot. I've left the box's front flap down so you can see the piece.
For the actual photo, I fold the front flap up to add a bit of reflector toward the front and to hide the tripod legs in shots of shiny jewelry.
Here's the RAW file straight from the camera.
And here's the shot that would go on Etsy. There's a little bit of cropping, sharpening, contrast enhancement, and spotting of the background. (We never, ever retouch the piece itself.)
Shameless plug: To see more photos, visit ShinyShelly on Etsy.