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Professional Jewelry Photography

Hello Orchidians,

I have been enjoying your conversations for a couple of months now,
and I think the Ganoksin Project is a powerful tool for the jewelry
community; we are fortunate to have such a free tool. Zerilli
Studios, Inc. is proud to sponsor Ganoksin. It is our contribution
to help keep it free. It’s an excellent forum for advice too. What I
can offer is advice on the subject of jewelry photography and image

My name is Francesco Zerilli and I’m a seasoned watch and jewelry
photographer. For more than 20 years I’ve studied art & composition,
visual and industrial design, lighting and art history with some of
the world’s finest and most talented artists and professors in
Europe. I have dedicated my career to becoming one of the best
jewelry image specialist’s, with a studio in Milan, Italy, and for
the last 15 years at my studio located in Michigan, USA. And with
the indispensable, Internet we are becoming a global studio.

What I would like to talk about first and foremost is image
management. Before jewelry photography and before you get any of
your pieces photographed, you have to know where your image stands
as a jewelry designer. The image you are portraying to the world is
absolutely the most important thing in one’s career as a jewelry

An image is worth a thousand words - or a million dollars in
commercial photography. The way the human mind works is through
association: great image great design and poor image poor design.
It really is that simple. Do you think that Van Cleef & Arpel,
Bulgary or Cartier’s gold is more precious than yours? Of course
not. It’s all image and marketing. They may have huge budgets, but
regardless of budget, a great image still equals great design. That
is a universal truth. In the last decade a few American jewelry
designers have caught on to the idea of how powerful image
management is. They are now emerging as some the best jewelry
designers in the world, rivaling the European big shots. They have
to thank image management and careful marketing. Where would you
like to be this decade? The jewelry industry is the oldest industry
in our marketplace. It’s also the most reluctant to embrace a
quality image. Everywhere you turn, you see poorly designed
websites, homemade photos, and cramped catalogs; As if jewelry was
sold by the pound.

Jewelry is a luxury product. Luxury, Luxury, Luxury. These are the
three words that anybody should repeat before attempting any
marketing or image management, not Potato, Potato, Potato. It is a
choice to buy jewelry, not necessity. A jewelry purchase is an
impulse buy, so it should be presented in its most appealing
light-always. This is especially true with e-commerce; where
customers are only a click away from a purchase. And if a customer
can’t tell if it’s yellow, white or ‘purple/gold’, his/hers, they’re
going to be hesitant to make a purchase. In some cases you can’t
even tell if it is a piece of jewelry or not, what is that, a
doorknob? Guess how many pieces they’re going to sell? Zilch.

I have been admiring the jewelry design work on the Ganoksin Gallery
and I must say, some of the designs are incredible. They should be
showcased with equally brilliant photography. Unless you’re an
expert, you should leave the photography and image management to the
professionals. It only hurts you and your bottom line if you don’t.
Jewelry photography isn’t something one just “picks up” it is the
hardest thing in all of photographic history to do correctly. It’s a
skill that takes years to perfect; I know this from experience.

The great thing about The Ganoksin Project is that we can all share
our views, opinions and tips. Sure, some constructive, some
destructive, but without it, how would we ever know how to make it
the best it can be? Opinions are one of the most important things in
the retail world - in the jewelry world, certainly. If the work
comes across as amateur to an amateur, your in trouble, nobody will
buy it. But if it comes across as amateur to a professional, it’s
just a damn sin and it’s our job as professionals to correct it.
Just a tip from someone who lives and breathes jewelry, and jewelry
photography. [Oh, an opinion!]

Francesco Zerilli

Zerilli Studios Inc.

I want to add my two cents’ worth to this. If you cannot create
fully professional shots of your jewelry, then it is very good advice
to have a pro do your photography, wether it is Mr. Zerelli, or
someone local to you whose portfolio of jewelry shots you have
examined critically.

My wife was a professional photographer in a former life, and has
done jewelry photography for me and others. One time, doing a catalog
shot which involved a fairly large grouping of dissimilar types of
jewelry, she spent about an hour with lights and reflectors and test
shots, getting the lighting ‘just right.’ When she had the shot, and
was about to tear down the setup, I asked her to move the camera back
10 feet and photograph the setup. That was so, when the client asked
why it was “HOW MUCH for one photo?” she could just hand him the
picture of the setup, so he could see hoe complicated it really was.
David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

Mr. Francesco Zerilli,

Well said! Infact I am trying a new type of web site which uses
these type of images (photos) for my silversmith pages. I have
photographed nature many years neither can compare as I though I
knew what I was doing with the photos of the silver. Again, just to
let you know, Very Well Said Mr. Zerilli.

William Gray Thunder
P.o. Box 456
Manvel, Texas 77578

Thank you for these wonderful insights - something we all should
know and probably do know on some level, but which we sometimes

I’m not in the “business of selling” i.e. having my own shop, (I
sell only by word of mouth), but I think that those who are must
surely pay heed to what you are saying (if they have not already done
so). I was in commercial art some years ago, and I can tell you
image is definitely what it’s about. Depending on the type of ad you
prepare, it will make or break a product. And in the same manner that
most companies or persons do not do their own art work for their ads
nor do they try to design their magazine ads so should jewelers
realize that they have a “product” to sell and that “product” must be
presented in the correct image to find its market.

I completely AGREE ! Only something more… When you give someone a
picture of yours, you have to think about what he would imagine
looking at it. Imagination is the most important think in our work.
And imagination will bring your picture into the mind, but in the
soul too , of your customers. Have a nice week end !