Wow.. this is a tricky task especially if you're on a budget like I am.. I have tried many different things! And as I am collecting my experiences, my pictures start looking better! Ok, so I want to share few tricks now that may be of help to YOU as well.
1. Use Macro setting on your camera. No matter how old it is. I tried and made decent pictures with my 7 yo camera! Make sure to take at least a one good close up photo to show the prettiest detail on your jewelry!
2. Use White Balance on your camera. This feature may help to adjust light and yellowishness of the pictures depending on the conditions of the photography setting.
3. Be careful with a background you chose. Try with plain neutral colors first and than add one or few props. Make sure the props and background don't destract or blend in with your jewelry. Remember that on Etsy potential buyers see your picture as a small icon and you want them to see your jewelry and not as much your props! If you're photographing on fabric, make sure it is ironed! No matter how good your necklace is if the picture is taking with it laying on a wrinkled tablecloth, it will look lousy.
4. Try to take pictures with natural light. Indirect sunlight seems to work the best. Direct sunlight will give you too many sharp shades. Soft indirect light of the sun will help you to keep your jewelry looking on pictures just as it looks in reality.
5. Sometimes you need just a little bit more light if you're making pictures under indirect sunlight (or other set up). You cannot use the flash because it will cause too much glare if your jewelry pieces are shiny and polished. Lamp will have the same effect as a flash.. so what do you do?.. Use the flash BUT cover it with a thick layer of tissue paper (paper towel, toilet paper..) It will allow enough light through but won't cause the glare! Cool, isn't it?..
6. I've tried making a lightbox with a clear plastic storage container. And it works well! Just take a container, turn it on its side - and voila! Add a background, lights and have fun! You may want to add some paper tissues on the sides of the container if it allows too much light through.
7. Use basic Picasa tools to adjust light and contrast and to crop your pictures! Picasa is simple and free to download.
Ok, this is it for now. I am still working on improving my photos but this should get you started! I will add more later.
And for right now - just as an example of how my pictures start to look: