Photographing gems with mirrors

We use the mirrors to shift the light to accent stones, and to
manipulate shadows… However, I found that the "shaving mirrors"
were too large, cumbersome, and always got knocked over during the
setup for the shoot.

What I have done - is take “inspection mirrors” which are available
at the local jewelers supply by the name of Harbor Freight as well as
any automotive mechanics’ tool dealers - and break the the shaft off
(or remove sections if it is a telescoping handle) to get about 10
inches total length.

Then (also at Harbor Freight, or for 3 times the money - at your
jewelers supply) obtain a 3rd hand base. You can disassemble the
universal joint and install the shaft upon which the mirror is
mounted into the joint. Now you have a more stable base, a 10" swing
or reach, and a functional universal joint!

This enables you to get over the top of a piece of jewelry, and
reflect the light down, if need be… It also gives you the option of
aiming the mirror from positions and places that shaving mirrors just
won’t do.

They come in various sizes - I think the pair of mirrors we use most
often are 2" rounds - but I have a pair of 2" x 4" rectangles, and a
pair of 1" rounds. You can never have too many mirrors or other
reflective surfaces lying about - you never know what you may have to
adapt to get the next item to photograph well…

I use the setup that I learned from Charles Lewton-Brain with some
minor changes, and I will be grateful to him for the rest of my days
on the planet…

One last remark: though I have been doing precious metalwork for 25
years, and was a blacksmith/horseshoer before that - I have learned
more from this forum, and the people in it, during the last couple of
years - than I have in the past 10 years on my own. Absolutely
amazing things, astounding things, and the simplest things… (As
well as - hate to admit this - things I once knew, and had

It will be a long, long time, before I have given even a small
percentage of what I have gotten from this group, back to you all…

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School