Welcome to the Jewellery blog by Sparkle Photography

How to spot a real diamond

Posted: August 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,
brilliant cut diamond

Brilliant cut diamond, shot by Sparkle Photography


Here at sparkle photography we shoot a wide variety of  jewellery, watches and diamonds. From fun costume jewellery to luxury one off pieces. We endeavour to make every single item look as beautiful as possible, however nothing shoots quite like a well cut natural diamond!

With the ever increasing popularity of vintage fairs, flea markets and online auctions, second hand jewellery, vintage jewellery and diamonds are big business. So how can you tell if you are getting the bargain of the century or being fobbed off with a bit of old glass?

Here are our top tips on how to spot a real diamond on the fly.

Testing a mounted diamond


. The fog test.

Simply breathe on the stone to fog it up as you would a mirror. If the stone stays fogged up for more than a second or so, it is likely not a real diamond. A real diamond will disperse the heat from your breath almost instantaneously and will not fog up easily.

2 . Check the setting.

Real diamonds are not likely to be set in cheap metals. Look for hallmarks indicating gold, silver or platinum ( 375,585,750,800,925,950 are all good).  Also look for obvious stamps that might indicate the type of stone , such as dia (diamond) , cz (cubic zirconia) etc, although these kind of stamps are rare.

3. Inspect the stone closely.

If you can get your hands on a jewellers loupe or powerful magnifying glass, take a close look at the stone. Look for inclusions and imperfections. Synthetic diamonds or cubic zirconia are usually made flawless. If it is perfect then it is unlikely to be a real diamond. Cubic zirconia can also have a waxy appearance, where as diamond should appear clear.  This step is highly recommended as some lab grown diamonds can pass the first two tests!!

Testing a loose diamond


1. Look at the stones refractivity.

A real diamond will sharply bend or refract the light passing through it, resulting in a bright sparkling appearance. A quartz or glass stone for example, will simply not look as sparkly or bright in the same light. This is due to them  having a lower refractive index than diamond. This is an inherent quality of the stone and is hard to replicate in a lesser stone, even with an expert cut!

Here are a couple of ways to do it;

The newspaper method:

Turn the stone upside down and place it on a sheet of newspaper. If you can read the print through the stone, or even distorted words or dark smudges, then it probably isn’t a real diamond. A real diamond would refract the light so sharply that you wouldn’t be able to see the print through the stone.

 The dot test:   

Draw a small dot on a piece of plain white paper and place the stone upside down over the center of the dot. Look directly down on the stone. If you can see a circular reflection in the stone then it is unlikely to be a diamond. You shouldn’t be able to see the dot through a real diamond.

2. Observe the reflections.  

The reflections in a real diamond usually appear in various shades of gray. Look down through the top of the diamond, if you see rainbow or multi coloured reflections, then this could indicate that you have a low quality or fake diamond. Remember it should also have an intense bright sparkle.

3. The weight test.

If you have access to a sensitive digital scale, compare the weight against a certified diamond. Cubic zirconia can weigh upto 50% more than a diamond of a similar size.

Professional appraisal

Although this guide may be handy when in a pinch, the only sure way to tell if your diamond is the real deal, is to have it professionally appraised by a member of the Institute Of Registered Valuers.

Click here to find local registered valuers

Happy hunting!



Are charms and beads still popular? Sure they are.

Posted: April 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized

Are charms and beads still popular? Course they are.

Charms hanging from bead braceletEnduring charms and beads

The lasting popularity of charms and beads is still going strong,  the small jewellery continues to be sought after.   It’s not surprising really that a simple little trinket  to remember a special time or the easy gift for those struggling to find the right present for a loved one should be so favoured.  The endless options make these items so marketable and why we still frequently shoot new charm designs and bracelets to hold them.

How do we do it?

Recently a client was telling us how their previous jewellery photographers found it difficult to position the loose structure and sometimes weighty items of charms and charm bracelets.  I thought I would give you a peek of one of our shots that manages to display the all the elements of interest and allows the product to hang naturally.  It can be done here at Sparkle Photography.  Years working in the jewellery photography studio gives us the know how to fashion these tricky fellows but am I sharing? Of course.  Well, the best advice I can give to achieve this is  pure and simple, buckets of patience, a little bit of super glue and a very steady hand!

The trick with this group of different beads and charms is being able to correctly light the pearls and soft rose quartz without burning them out.  The highly reflective  surface of silver and the light absorbing qualities of amethyst make this a tricky shot not to mention the gravity defying placement.

Getting enough light into the faceted amethyst beads holds a challenge but it easy with the correct equipment.  The gemstone beads need to flare gently, not reflect with a harsh light. so softly softly with the light.  Also, very important but often overlooked is to make sure the charms can be seen clearly. It may seem so obvious to most but you would be surprised at the amount of  charm bracelets on line that have the feature charms in an uncomfortable position.  I like to think the charms we shoot look very comfortable and well presented;-)

Additional Sparkle

I do feel that I need to add a little line or two about the photoshopped starburst, this has been added by request.  Star bursts seem to be popular but my personal preference would be to allow the jewellery to sparkle with it’s own radiant glory.

Beautiful jewellery from Chrysalis, image created for our dear friends Jdwilliams.



Lifestyle Photography for your jewellery

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized
vintage style jewellery photography

vintage style jewellery photography

Commissioning lifestyle jewellery photography & taking the plunge

Today I’d like to look at lifestyle photography for jewellery.  Hopefully it will help some of you jewellery designers out there who are thinking of taking the daunting step of commissioning professional images.   Much of the work we do here is often for the larger companies, they require a high volume of work to be turned around fast.  Like us, our clients have an eye for detail and quality so we have to make sure we provide the best imagery, so it’s always nice to to work with a more open brief, allowing some creative juices to flow, guidelines are agreed: be it crop, style, ambiance or even just colour and tone…. and off we go.  Creating beautiful photography is more than my job, it’s my passion.

Why lifestyle photography?

Down to the nitty gritty. A lifestyle shot not only offers the customer a connection to the jewellery by means of  an insight into the type of person that would wear such an item.  Lifestyle photography offers the retailer or designer the option of a bulk shoot, always more interesting to the customer.  Costume jewellery  is well suited to lifestyle photography as the samples require only a small amount of retouch compared to fine jewellery.   The soft focus on some of the products acts as as lure to invite the customer to have closer look at that product and opens up further opportunity to browse similar items via links, depending on your website design.  By combining a number of samples within a shot, without suffocating the products can be a great way to maximise sale space.  The key to good lifestyle jewellery photography is as always, composition and lighting.   The lifestyle shot when put in the safe hands of a carefully chosen photographer and stylist will give you the edge over your fellow designers competing in this vast ocean of jewellery design.

Jewellery from CavendishFrench  image for JDWilliams


Christmas Jewellery Photography in Spring.

Posted: December 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News, Uncategorized
jewellery photography showing solitaire diamond ring positioned into a snow scene.

jewellery photography of solitaire diamond ring.

Christmas jewellery photography in Spring

Those of us in the Jewellery business know only too well how the schedules for selecting and shooting are way out of sync with the natural seasonal cycles.  Spring jewellery brochures are shot in October and our Winter gems are captured when the green buds are just bursting into life. This contrast with the ebb and flow of  normal life (whatever that might be) keeps us busy all year round.  Here we are once again in December, 2013 is flying by so quickly after such a year bustling with watch and jewellery photography and as a result an abandoned blog.

Test Photography

In our not so manic spells we fuel our creative sparks by experimenting with new ideas and approaches to lighting techniques, backgrounds and textures. The image above was created with a great deal of patience and Luke’s sore fingers, from  origami penguin, our designer who hand cut each tree, branch and leaf from card. Much fun was had sooting this landscape, snow everywhere, not ideal for the dust free environment we try to keep here in the jewellery studio, but worth it.  The feel from the frozen river adds to the landscape with a mirrored reflection of snow to generate a true chill to the image. Perhaps a gold ring might have contrasted better but the platinum emphasises the cold impression we wanted to capture. Blue tones in the metal and the natural refractions of blue light in the diamond help ground the ring into situation rather than floating on the bed of snow.  In addition the gentle pile of snow nestles close to the base of the ring with out obscuring the form.  Together all these small details add up to a captivating image that hopefully draws in your attention.


Bridal Jewellery Photography

Posted: April 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized

Diamond set elegant ringsSpring is at last in sight, we can feel the approach of what is the most beautiful time of the year; well in my opinion anyway!  This  imminent approach signalled by the longer day light hours make Spring a highly anticipated season for many reasons, one of which is that this time of new life brings with it a flurry of weddings.

Bridal Jewellery

Already, Spring wedding jewellery shoots have been put to print; see the recent shoot attached. Brides and grooms are out there now searching through all mediums for their symbol of enduring love, the ring to wear for a life time.  According to National Statistics there has been an increase in marriages in England and Wales after some years of a lull.  Much of the jewellery photography we have covered includes not only sees the vast selection of wedding bands, but also all the other jewellery and trinkets involved when a wedding is being planned. Bridal jewellery in an array of trends but especially pearls have been very popular. Bridesmaids gifts these days are often jewellery; a whole market in it’s own right just there.

Photography & Web Design

Here at Sparkle Photography we look forward to seeing and shooting the new designs that will be the subject of careful scrutiny by future wedding jewellery consumers searching for that perfect piece.  With our team of photographers, stylists and web designers we can offer the whole package with great value payment plans.  Together with origami penguin our  sibling company we can provide everything from product shots to on-line shops with optimisation to make sure that not only does your site look great but also to make sure it’s up there at the top, maximising visibility to attract paying customers.


Watch Photography

Posted: March 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized

Gold Watch

There is something strangely rewarding about photographing a beautiful watch, it’s the combination of different finishes all in one neat package.   All the distinguishing features, be it a leather strap with a matte or glossy finish, lighting it just so, it needs to be more than is it polished?  Lighting needs to be flattering not flat!

Standards or Obsession?

With watch photography it is important that the strap stands off from the background without disappearing or looking washed out with light. Correctly lighting a brushed steel bracelet with a smooth polished detail inbetween links can be tricky; showing such features without burning out or worse making too dark should be easily achieved by a professional photographer. I find the most particular attention should paid to the face, crisp and clear, showing the finish of the dial is essential.  The almost spinning disc finish shows an example of my obsession for detail and lighting with our watch photography.

The Jewellery Show

Posted: February 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized

Fresh back form our fact finding mission at The Jewellery Show, I would like to say a thank you to all the exhibitors who took time to share their thoughts on how professional jewellery photographers might play a part in the drive to improve business.  As a jewellery photographer and not a marketeer it’s wasn’t the most comfortable environment to be researching demands but overall we felt a genuine welcome interest to our enquires. So, thank you.

As a bonus to the visit, it was exciting to see the new jewellery trends and the beautiful displays were a source of inspiration.  It was interesting to compare on years gone by the significant reduction in the amount of leaflets and brochures absent from the stalls, it’s a true reflection of how the difficult times have taken a toll on these once common place browsing materials.

If you are in the business of jewellery and watches and your DIY photography isn’t cutting the mustard may I refer you to the old adage that a picture says a thousand words. Imagery that’s just not as beautiful as your actual product, be it gold, silver or any precious gem; what is your picture saying about you and your confidence in your product? Sparkle is here to realise your  jewellery product’s beauty and free up your valuable time to do the things you do best….. Sell, design, create jewellery.



Photography for the Jewellery Industry

Sparkle Photography has been established since 2005. Our team of professional photographers, video editors and image retouchers have the experience to make your products look their absolute best.

Find out more about the Sparkle photography studio on the about us page.

All types of Jewellery:

  • High end jewellery
  • Costume jewellery
  • Gold, silver, platinum
  • Diamonds and other precious gem stones
  • Watches
  • Necklaces, braclets and bangles
  • Plus any other type of jewellery

Contact Sparkle

Telephone: 05601 132 384

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Professional, jewellery photography studio, retouching, movies and animations for the jewellery industry

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