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5 min read

3D jewelry rendering versus photography

fancy cluster band ring

Why 3D jewelry rendering could be better for your business than photography


The rise of e-commerce has led to an explosion of jewelry shops, brands and designers selling direct to consumers online. This unprecedented level of competition makes it more important than ever that the content on online stores is engaging and captivating, as it plays a pivotal role in the customer's decision-making process. Good content can be the difference between a customer browsing or bouncing. Ultimately, it will help them decide whether to make a purchase or not, and whether to recommend a store to others.


For jewelers, a website is a billboard, catalog and commercial all in one; and that is great news, as it means having full control. 


In the new digital economy, more people than ever are embracing online shopping, and browsing the web is the new window shopping. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and images are always what a customer takes in first when they visit an online shop


With this in mind, having high-quality visual content – specifically product imagery – is essential to attract and retain customers. It is also important to invest in imagery that shows jewelry products accurately and in the best light. This could be traditional high-quality product photography, state-of-the-art 3D jewelry rendering.


fine jewelry catalog



Different types of visual content for online stores

Visual content refers to any media that is meant to be seen or viewed, such as static images, videos, interactive 3D models, configurators, 360° spinners, and other graphics. It is used to engage and captivate an audience with information, ideas and emotions. Visual content has become a crucial part of marketing and communication strategies due to its ability to make a lasting impression and be more memorable than written or verbal content alone.

Static imagery can be generated through various methods, such as digital or traditional photography, graphic illustration, or 3D rendering using computer software. 

Note that with all of these options, it is important to showcase all angles and potential views of each product. This way, the customer can explore the product in a variety of ways. With jewelry, especially styles with high-ticket prices, customers expect to see the products from all angles, and will often zoom in to see details. This sort of viewing experience is what they would experience if they were shopping in person, and retailers need to build that same trust online. 


polished gold emerald gemstone earrings



What is a 3D product rendering?

A 3D product rendering is a computer-generated image that shows what an object would look like in real life. Typically considered “photorealistic”, these purely digital creations are becoming a bigger staple in the online jewelry business. 3D jewelry renderings (containing 3D product images of jewelry) are generated from 3D jewelry modeling, a technique used by 3D designers where they draw objects inside special software. A 3D jewelry rendering is like a digital picture, often a product image, that appears to be three-dimensional, meaning it has depth and shows the different sides of the piece. This technique is used in many industries, such as architecture, automotive, product design, and even entertainment, to help people visualize what a finished product might look like before it's built or created. 

In simple terms, 3D product rendering is a way to generate a photorealistic three-dimensional image of a product to be viewed on a computer screen.


3d manufactured goods



3D product rendering versus product photography 

There are several key advantages that computer-generated 3D renders bring to the table over traditional product photography. For starters, renders can be up to 50% cheaper than photography. Secondly, they can save time and effort on jewelry sampling; with modern 3D software, any design from a sketch or technical drawing can be photorealistically rendered. Thirdly, a consistent look can be maintained throughout a catalog with little effort. Because everything is saved digitally, the same 3D jewelry rendering setup can be used again months or years later to achieve exactly the same look for new products.


jewelry render photograph comparison


How to tell if a 3D render is good quality 

High-quality 3D jewelry rendering requires a lot of practice and knowledge of a particular 3D rendering software, as well as an artistic eye to ensure the final images look like real objects. 

It is also possible to get an average-looking render with little to no experience. For those on a budget, this can seem like the best option, but it can be a huge mistake that can lead to missed sales as products rendered in this way might not be high quality enough to convert online shoppers.

In the examples below, there are side-by-side comparisons of 3D jewelry rendering - high-quality rendering on the left, and low-quality rendering on the right. We break down the differences between the two.


         solitaire ring render                                         bad solitaire ring render

Good jewelry renders
Bad jewelry renders
  1. Metal color is accurately calibrated
  2. Good looking shadow
  3. Accurate highlights and reflections on the gold surface
  4. Professional look
  5. Easily readable render
  1. Weird reflections make it hard to get a feel for the shape of the ring
  2. Uneven lighting
  3. Stones are too dark and not highlighted
  4. Poor overall look


         signet ring render                                         bad signet ring render

Good jewelry renders
Bad jewelry renders
  1. Metal color is accurately calibrated
  2. Realistic shadow
  3. Accurate highlights and reflections on the gold surface
  4. Professional look
  5. Easily readable render
  1. Blurry reflections
  2. Can’t see defining features
  3. Gold color is not calibrated
  4. Overall dull look


3D jewelry rendering is more affordable than you think

Let’s calculate some scenarios on how much a 3D jewelry rendering would cost versus jewelry photography. As an example, let’s take a ring design that has three colored stone options and three metal color variations.

To photograph all the variations, it would require setting up the lights and then changing out the physical rings nine times. The lighting and placements would need to be uniform for all the subsequent shots to ensure accuracy and consistency in the final product imagery. 

Accuracy is essential in the success of an e-commerce website. Poor or misleading images can negatively impact the customer experience and negatively impact sales.

An average cost for one photo is about $20. Considering that there might be two angles required per product and nine variations in total, this means 18 photos are required, so the total cost would be $360 for one design. Bear in mind that sometimes the per-photo price doesn’t include editing. Most photographers give all-in prices that include editing to ease the process, but will likely have limitations on the number of revisions. 

Inconsistency across products from different collections is an often unforeseen side effect of e-commerce photography. When a photographer gets a new lens, new lights, or if a brand has to change studios or locations, there is more room for subtle differences in how the final image of the product looks. 

Working with a strong 3D jewelry rendering partner can ensure the ability to personalize metals, stones, positions, studios and lighting, giving beautiful, uniform product shots whether the collections are released six months or six years apart.


jewerly bridal configurator


Using a 3D product rendering solution for jewelry can also be a lot cheaper, especially if there are variations to the product such as the ones mentioned above. It also creates unprecedented consistency in product images compared to photography.


jewelry 3D sketch


We recommend learning more about 3D product renderings and testing this method out.  to see the differences, assess the results, and decide whether rendering or photography is the best strategy for your business. 

In conclusion, a picture is still worth 1,000 words, making product imagery a critical component in the success of an e-commerce website. Investing in 3D rendering services and an e-commerce product configurator can help to increase the time shoppers spend on a website, click-throughs and conversions, and improve the overall customer experience. 

To give a jewelry business its best chance, all images on an e-commerce website should be accurate and clearly represent the product being sold. Consistency is an important part of the equation. Also make sure any product configurator properly updates and displays any unique customizations being offered to customers. Online shops that invest in high-quality images are more likely to succeed in the competitive world of e-commerce.

About UNCO

This article was provided by UNCO, the most advanced solution provider for digital product photography in jewelry. It offers 3D renders of high-quality product imagery for jewelry e-commerce shops, and a premium builder solution for customized jewelry at an affordable price. Discover more at

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