In a previous life, I was a commercial photographer specializing in
tabletop work for catalogs. Lots of jewelry. Jewelry and shiny
objects are difficult, but you can do it. It's all about controlling
the light, and the answer is soft. No direct light, it must be
either reflected (usually white art board will do the trick) or
diffused through something (hence the light boxes and tents. You
will see all sorts of boxes and domes, all of which have limitations
that become apparent when you start to use them, but are never
mentioned in the advertising (so what else is new?).
With a little thinking and a VERY few dollars, you can make a frame
out of 1" white PVC pipe, just a simple box, maybe 20 inches on a
side. Drape it on the top and sides and back with white trash bags.
Use a white or pastel colored glazed tile from the hardware store as
your base, remembering that jewelry generally acts like a
mirror....if you use black tile, you will see black in your jewelry,
as a rule. You can also use a piece of non-glare glass as a base,
with colored paper underneath it, etc. Very nice.
Most folks will tell you to use photofloods from the photo store
(expensive and hot, short life, color changes as they die) or
halogen shop lights (hot, bright, so-so color, cheap). They are
fine, but they are HOT!!! That means, sooner or later, you will burn
yourself or set something on fire and I'm not kidding.
The best light source is electronic flash, off the camera. Lots of
ways to get the flash to go off when you want it to go off. It's
cheap, controllable, repeatable, NOT hot, and will still be working
when your work on Earth is done.
Two hints: When thinking about light, more is better (increased
depth of field is possible), weak light will lead you to very
tough-to-solve problems. And RTFM!! That means, Read The $^%
Manual!!! Camera manual, that is. You need to learn to use your
aperture in your favor and yes, you need a tripod or other very firm
support. You DO! Honest!
Wayne, figuring it out is half the fun