After struggling for years with photography and lighting, I finally figured it out. I admit, I am not the best photographer, but having the proper tools to do the job is a game changer.
When I purchased a good DSLR camera, my sales went up.
Get yourself a decent DSLR camera. Yes, you can use a point and shoot, but I prefer using a macro lens so I can get the detail of the bead. Cannon or Nikon are great, for simplicity, just pick one and stick with it.
You can go the professional route and pay for expensive equipment or you can do what some of us jewelry artists do. Use regular lights, I use the kind that clamp to the table, this way I can move them around for the proper lighting angles. I have about 4 lights. One on each side, one on top, and one in front. I add extra paper to diffuse the light so there aren't any hot spots. Be sure to dome the paper so it doesn't touch the bulb and get hot.
I have optional back lighting under the light tent. More below.
Buy DAYLIGHT bulbs. Get the 8 pack. I've had a couple break, and it sucks if you are out of the bulbs and need it for a shoot.
I use several things.
A. Plexiglass; it can be shiny, matt, gray, white, black, color of choice, translucent.
My plexiglass is translucent white so the lights under neath illuminate the glass from below. Be sure not to scratch it.
Find it at your local plastic supply store or Amazon.
Find a fabric that matches your brand or feel. Silky, vintage, pattern, organza, etc. I would personally stay away from a crazy pattern.
Your hand, book, shell, rock, etc. Something that can help brand your photo skills. Don't use anything distracting, you are selling your jewelry, not your prop.
D. Light Tent
Get a big one. Even though it is jewelry and is small, get a big tent. Mine is about 34 inches tall. Big enough for me to put my upper body inside so I can arrange the jewelry. It allows me to take multiple angles with minimal exposure to the corners of the tent or edge of the prop or plexiglass.
Mine can be folded down to about 1' x 1' x 2". And when you want to set it up, it takes 2 seconds to pop open.
Get a decent tripod that has smooth movement. It's annoying when you want to move it just a fraction of an inch, and it sticks and then moves too much.
Make sure it has all the angles for you to tilt the camera.
Make sure it can extend really tall so you can take images from really high, you may need a step stool.
Get an extra camera mount - just in case. If you lose it, and don't have time to look for it, you are out of luck.
Something like this may work, but I suggest going to the store to test them out.
F. Shutter release
For longer exposures you are going to need a shutter release or use the camera timer. But if you are going to take 100 photos, you don't want to wait additional seconds each time.
They come with a wire or wireless. This is what I have, and I never lose it. I have it rubber banded to the handle.
Images without a light box.
Images with a light box: