4.04 Carat Mogok Ruby

Having trouble photographing gems. This stone is eye clean and is hard to capture its beauty because I don’t know anything about how to set it up (photograph) for a good result. I’d appreciate some pointers on how to present a colored gem properly so others can see my gems more naturally, if possible.
This particular ruby is certified with no heat or other treatments. I purchased in Myanmar circa 2007.


Generally you will want to use a high quality camera and a macro lens. You can use a good quality iPhone or Android and buy an inexpensive macro lens for about $20 USD. A white background and good lighting from a “lightbox” is also a good idea.

I took these photos with a Samsung Galaxy 22 and such a macro lens.


I would try my macro lens on a good cell phone under diffuse outdoor sunlight and then direct sunlight. You should be able to get a decent shot. I see lots of outdoor photos of gems for sale on line… -royjohn


This is good information thank you so much Brian. I gave a reasonably good Sony digital camera to my niece a couple years ago since my pixel (Google) phones experience has been great. I did know that there are macro attachments but thought the phone would do better at close up without an attachment. I will order some of those and redo. I’m new here and think this is a great platform to continue my colored Stone knowledge experience.


Thanks @royjohn - I agree that gems generally look great in better light (outdoors) and especially star sapphires. I’ve ordered a macro lens for my phone so hopefully in a few weeks I’ll get to test the attachment.

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I use a Samsung S22 phone camera with a macro lens attachment.

I also have an inexpensive lightbox with tripod lights that can be phocused on the gem (s). I even use an inexpensive tripod for my phone since sometimes it can be shaky if hand held.

The lightbox and lens assortment can be purchased on Amazon for not that expensive amount.

I have a lot of inventory im trying to sell off at a very low price and find these help in showing off the true stone.




I’ve the same challenge. Thanks for this info. I have an iPhone 12: can anyone suggest a brand of macro lens for it? I do have a wee lightbox but it’s a bit fussy to set up and when I need to send a quick pic of a ring or gem to send a client it’s just that added amount of work I tend to skip. At my peril! The images never ever capture what’s sparkling in front of me.

If you do a search on Amazon for “macro lens for phone” you will find a ton of listings. They don’t cost very much and most of them are decent quality. Just check reviews. I just bought a set for $34 and they work well.

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Ex-pro photographer here, now gemologist and spent many hours perfecting the art with gemstones.
Macro lens is a must, I does see more then your eye ever will but at least your showing the exact stone.

So my set up is as follows;
Cannon 5D mark ii & Cannon 5D Mark IV (either work well)
100mm macro lens mine is the pro but I have used the sigma macro and it work exceptionally well (every day people will never tell the different)
Now here is the deal breakers and most important of all - I tri-pod is a must this will stop hand shake.
Gem stone holder (or something to hold it steady)

I shoot both in and outdoors depending on the gemstone, opal for instance is much better outside to show play of colour, Sapphire can benefit from lighting box with white background.

I prefer white back ground over all other colours
Here is why; prevents colour cast, shows the exact gem as it should, and the lighting is far easier to balance with white.

You need a light in front more than any other light this will show the beautiful polish on the gemstone, and less of the macro inclusions that you can’t see by eye, hence producing a clearer image of what it will look like to the eye for the consumer.

White balance needs to be spot on for the lighting you’re taking this also ensures the true colour is in the final image.

I’ve used my phone with macro but you will never get absolute true colour due to the factors above. It depends what you want the photo for, if just social media then any will do, I personally believe if your wanting to photograph to sell it should be presented as close to what the eye will see as possible.

Happy to help if anyone needs any :blush:


Plus directional lighting above, sides and below helps to show all facets and polish :ok_hand:t2:

And until you get those things set up, try zooming in as close as you can and move the phone camera further away keeping the gem about1/3 to 1/2 of the frame. Then take the photo and crop to eliminate as much background as needed. Works great for quick social media photos.

Are you trying to sell?

If I only learned one thing in life it’s that everything is for sale even though people say it’s not LOL. I’ve held my collection for long enough to know that I love it more than its value. If this gem is what I portray it as, and not being a gia or igs gemologist, I just look at it as one of my many treasures of rubies and gems in my collection. Reading the charts for pricing here it’s worth a minimum of 30 grand? Is that a fair assessment or am I blowing smoke?

$30K COULD be realistic, but without a credible lab report and quality photos, it is not possible to confirm. Jeffery - www.EighthDimensionGems.com WhatsApp +66808206802


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Thanks for your insight @jbergman Step by step. I acquired, transported and had about a half dozen (various rubies/sapphires) assessed by my gemologist at the time. Unfortunately he passed away which was not interesting or fair but I had to go through attorneys as his estate had my stones in a numbered envelope. Lucky for me I had good memory of what was in the stash and the ticket stub. Another fantastic gem story in itself. Ian did evaluate the gems (note attached for the 4.04 carat ruby). He did note on a different stone (pink sapphire) that it was diffusion treated but the rest, including this one in question is natural.

Beautiful Ruby @jbergman !! Thanks for sharing.

It is a challenge to photograph gems. I have spent days and days, trying to figure out the best set up for taking pictures of my faceted stones. I wish I would have asked on here, years ago, as everyone that replied has great info on the subject.

What I found out is that you can’t have too much light, but don’t use flash. Flash will white our facets and over enhance the details of the gem, (like turning up the resolution of a pic way too much). A white background is best, use a photo box, they give very even lighting.

One thing I found for selling gems online is to video them on a turning mirror platform, see pic. They are very inexpensive online to buy. The gem turns around giving a full 360 view and the mirror accentuates the flash the gemstone gives off. Very important is to have several lights on both sides of the camera aimed at the stones to get the most brilliant, yet real, flash from the gem. I usually use 6 6K led lights, 2 next to the camera and 4 over the top of the gems from different angles.

Put a tall white background behind the mirror, it will help the camera focus on the gem. Put the gem in the exact center of the mirror otherwise the focus will change because of difference in distance as the gem turns.

With an iphone use the pro setting, that way you can play with the settings to get a natural color that best matches the gem you have, that can be a tricky part, getting the colors in a pic to match the gem.

Picture above of Oregon Sunstones and amethyst was taken with an S-20 iphone, 4x magnification, pro setting.


Both comments are true but i think the high quality of phone cameras and the lightbox both help vs someone whi just shows the stine with tweezers or in their hand. I alsi have a small inexpensive turntable for tge gems. But overall you’re cirrect it is wirk but thats what life is and personally i like to presnt the best overall picture or representation i can to a perspective buyer.

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Totally agree with a tripod. At least fir me. I find it shakes too much trying to hold the stone plus get the most accurate picture that represnts the stone.

Totally agree except for the mirror turntable. I personally find it too distracting so I just use a plain white one. Also agree with the led lights in a lightbox. I use the newer S22 Ultra phone model from last year.