How to Photograph Gemstones and Minerals?

Photography of gems and mineral is an art. Especially polished gemstones have highly reflective surfaces that can reflect light back into the camera lens overexposing the facet and frequently burn into adjacent facets as well. Gemstones also have internal brilliance that acts in much the same way as the surface reflections.  They always need specific light and background to make clear the quality of gemstones in such a way that a photo of gemstone can speak all its characteristics. Though it is not difficult to photograph the gemstone. The only method needed is how to deal with gemstones.

List of a Few Equipment you need before photographing a gems Mineral?

  1. Camera or Mobile Phone - Camera should be capable of shooting images of 16 mega pixels or above.- In Case of Mobile, samsung zoom is good. iphone takes original colour photos. Main thing is needed to focus the object and light.
  2. Macro Lens - 60-80 mm macro lens capable of 1:1 magnification enables you to focus on the object from 5 inches distance or more.
  3. Tripod - Tripod will help you in movement. It will finish the movement of the camera while taking photos.
  4. Lighting and setting (A Light box will help )
  5. wireless shutter

Camera Macro Lens

The cheap and Easy way to make Light Box


Setting before Beginning

  1. Wash your gemstones so that macro setting of the camera may not capture the dust and scratches
  2. Stabilize the Tripod. If it is not available, set your camera in a fixed position or set mobile phone
  3. For Mobile devices, use the wireless shutter. Touching your mobile screen will not be able to focus on the object.
  4. Clip-on macro lenses are available for smartphones from a variety of manufacturers for Apple and Android devices. ōlloclip macro is a good one and is portable.

Choose your Background Setting

While coshing background, it is very important to create a dramatic setup. If you want accuracy or focus on the gemstone or minerals, one will choose a neutral coloured background.

[caption id="attachment_774" align="alignright" width="424"] How gemstones get their specific colours, Learn this Also[/caption]

Background depends on gemstone colour or gemstone type. Some mineral specimens look more clear in the natural background. Some faceted stone looks more clear in the plain background.  There can be two types of background settings:;-

  1. You can make a light tent out of almost anything that’s translucent.
  2. White Background 
  3. Black Ground
  4. Mix background 

You need to figure out which background is reflecting on stone much better than the other. Quartz will need a black background. Blue will need a white background. Aquamarine with more blue will need both types.


Lightning plays important roles in the photography. In the gems mineral world, lightning has a key role. Lighting determines the appearance of the gem–how the facets reflect the light–and the color of the gem, via the spectrum of the lighting.  Gems are of different colours which are reflected in different light setup. Some of them are described here below:-

  1. White LED Day Light 
  2. Reflected Light 
  3. Yellow LED Light 
  4. Sunlight before afternoon 
  5. Sunlight 2 hours before sunset 
  6. Dont use Flash in most of the time especially when you are working with close up shots. 
  7. Adjust the white balance on your camera

Sometimes, you have to take photos n white LED light and sometimes yellow light. Sometimes, you have to mix both. Sunlight in the morning till 1 hour before the afternoon is the best time for taking photos. But it is not necessary you get the best background always if one is living in cities metropolitan life. So you have to set up artificial daylight.

Here are some tips over lightning:-

  • Try to use a single colour light
  • Throw direct light on some gemstones like a cut or those which has some effects like cat's eye.

  • Some gems will demand indirect light. For this, light with white parachute can help. Throw light from outside parachute to inside which will throw the reflections.

  • A mix of direct and indirect or diffused lightning can make the picture beautiful by adding shining or dispersion to a transparent gem.

  • High polished gemstones can be problematic with some direct lights. So that case, indirect lightning will help.
  • You can picturesque a in sunny day in a shadow because shadow will be reflecting the light.
  • Faceted stone would not work ua nder sunny day as sunlight will sparkle the facet and you would not be able to catch the individual facet.

Day Light Bulb

Positioning of the gemstones

Positioning of the gemstone plays a vital role int he picture. The angle of gemstones matters a lot in final photo.

  1. If the stone is rough faceted grade like tourmaline to make clear xis view clear, its top surface has to put before light so light reflection can be seen easily.
  2. For stones like which have stars, they should be positioned in such a way that through light, the star should appear in center.


Adjusting Focus

The focus is the main factor which plays a role in taa king fine picture. In fact, this is the weak point. You have to select the point on the stone to focus your camera. People need to know the maximum focal length of their lens. Pictures end up out of focus because they’ve gotten closer than the limit of the lens. They need to know where things go out of focus. If it’s too close, they need to use a different camera or a zoom mechanism.


If one will lose the focus of a mineral specimen, you are going to be out of giving unique detail of the specimen. It is better to take test photos for reviews.


  • One needs to be able to focus on an object from about 6 mm in diameter on up.
  • Optically the rule is that the longer the focal length of the lens the narrower the angle of view; hence the greater the working distance.
  • 105 mm lens is the best one as it will the give the opportunity to light to throw all around. Minimum length or distance would not allow throw of light. however with adjustment, 60 mm to onward works well.

Composition and Editing of Photo

After taking photos, editing is the final stage. It needs the following activities:-

  1. Transfer the image to the computer
  2. Cropping
  3. Colour balance
  4. Adobe Photoshop
  5. Different Aps in mobiles

Make sure that picture quality may not loss during editing.

Here is a tip to get macro photos from phone


Following topics can help you in understanding gemstones and minerals, luster type, cutting types. Understanding of them will help you in photography also.

  1. How Gems Minerals Get Their Specific Colours?
  2. What is Luster Called in Gemstones?
  3. Lapidary / Types of Gemstone Cutting
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