Tom and grace - I agree with you about the jewelry display stuff - to
a point. I've seen some gorgeous displays but I thought they were
selling the displays because they so overpowered the jewelry.
One of the most effective displays I've seen is a series of boxes,
covered in handsome handmade paper, stacked. You could hide chains
behind the boxes, and frame the piece on the box. If I ever get the
time, I will do the same.
What I use is wooden blocks, round, square, triangle etc made of
walnut. (My father-in-law is a gunsmith and they are made of
leftover gunstock material) They are a neutral color, and allow
framing the piece of jewelry - however, they are heavy! Use a cream
colored paper for the base of the display, almost everything looks
good on it.
You might look at the powder coated screens that Rio has - they are
particularly nice for earring display.