Well, allow me to throw in my two cents. I may not be a master photographer but I'd like to think I do have a pretty decent understanding of photographing jewelry/beads/accessories. I figured this out myself and you can too, I promise! I'm not guaranteeing they will be perfect immediately, but if they suck now they'll be significantly better when we are done.
1) It starts with white.
No, white is not boring. It is professional and it makes your product pop. Until you get a good grasp of taking a decent picture, please do me a favor and just stick to nice clean white (or black if it's something incredibly pale). Get a giant piece of matte white paper and follow me on to step 2...
2) Now, go outside!
No, a light box is not the same. No, going next to your window is not the same. They will both suffice in crappy weather (Aka I have an awful time with wind, some people hate the cold winter weather), but they still are not a replacement for the real thing. Now, you're going to want it to be bright out, but here's the catch: you can't be in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause harsh shadowing and make all your pictures look like junk. Now if you go outside while it's bright but overcast, or diffuse your light (say with a big white sheet) then you'll be rocking. Simply: Natural indirect light is superior.
3) Figure out your darn camera!
My camera is a $99 piece of junk. It's not perfect and I want to throw it against a wall a lot, but I still get fairly good pictures out of it. Anyone who tells you that you need a bazillion dollar camera or else your pictures will suck and your whole business will fail miserably needs to be slapped thoroughly. What am I getting at here? You camera probably has a "macro" or "closeup" setting. Use it! It will allow you to zoom in closer and get clearer, crisper shots. Secondly, turn your ISO up a bit. The ISO either elongates or shortens how long your shutter stays open and therefore how much light it absorbs. Higher ISO = more light = brighter picture. This will help combat the gray dull picture plague of your photos. I saw in the Storque an article which had a good way to figure out how high it should be: shoot at a piece of white paper a few times, turn it up each time until it comes out a true white in your viewer and this should be a good setting for it.
Word of warning though from a fellow Etsian (with stunning photographs): don't get crazy with the ISO though, if you turn it up too much it will give you grainy, fuzzy, unsharp pictures! If your feeling froggy, a better option he thinks is to use a longer shutter time and a tripod. This allows more light in becuase the lens is open longer without risk of your camera shaking and making everything fuzzy.
4) Interesting angles set you apart.
Any dumb person with a camera phone can take a picture of something. You need to take an amazing pictures that stands out from all the rest. Part of this is intriguing angles. If I learned nothing before dropping out of art school, I do remember one thing: an interesting picture will drag your eye around. It will make you keep looking at it. Dead center isn't interesting and straight on isn't interesting either. Get on your knees, wiggle around, put your camera flush on the paper, mess around! Crop it so I can only see the front edge of your pendant and a snaking chain out the other end.
The other reason this is important is becuase there are only about 37689.22 bazillion people selling on Etsy too. I know: you're unique and your jewelry is TOTALLY and utterly different then anything else EVER created or known to man. Well, even if it is, most traffic comes directly through Etsy and let me ask you this: When you're cruising through the categories, do you click on the bright, bold, visually interesting pictures; or those gray zoomed out ones where your not entirely sure what it is? Guess what? Your customers click on the big bright shiny ones too!
5) Okay I've got pictures, I'm done now right?
No! You need to edit them! Even professional photographers edit their photos, why do you think you're exempt? If you want your shop to succeed, you can't half ass it, sorry! I want you to download Picasa or GIMP. Go online and use Picnik.com or Aviary. Either way, MS Paint ain't going to fly. Tweak your contrast so that it is true to life. Yes, you can hold your hair clip in your hand and match it to the screen for all I care. Turn up your highlight to the point where your background is white but your item isn't overexposed.
Now, crop it!!!!!! Don't be afraid to get up close and personal. I tend to think you should have at least one super close picture to show detail, a few interestingly cropped ones so you can see different facets of your item, and then one overall shot where you can see the whole thing at once. Take a necklace for instance: get super close in and show me the texture of the filigree on your pendant, the whole pendant, the chain, the clasp, and then the whole thing. Does that make sense?
6) Sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful photography and go ask for a "critique" to show off how awesome you are!
A bit more thorough explanation of indirect light:
Product Photography Tips:
Photo Editing Programs: