Friday, March 5, 2010

New Choker, A Bit About Photos & Crystals

I've updated my Sales page with details about my March sale, and I've finally listed one of my new necklaces! You can check it out by clicking the photo - it's one of the items on sale this month.  :)

Forest Green Seed Bead Choker w/ Swarovski Crystal & Vintage Glass

I got impatient waiting for my new Paint Shop to come, and managed to figure out how to get a somewhat decent picture using the image program I found on my computer. It has a crop function and an enhance button, which just sharpens the image a bit. The only missing aspect that I ever use for the image area is background lightening, which just helps the jewelry stand out more for the purposes of a photo. I also like to add borders in complementary colors around the image because I think it's a nice finishing touch and sets the image apart, hopefully in a subtle way, in search results.

My personal and admittedly very amateur take on image editing is that you should never use color enhancement, and certainly shouldn't add effects! There are times when the picture on your screen just doesn't look like it does in real life, but that can be corrected to a great extent with proper lighting [sunlight or full spectrum bulbs seem to work best] or even some experimenting with your backgrounds. Once you get into color editing, it's easy to start playing around too much with your image, resulting in one that's less true-to-life and potentially misleading. If you're really having problems with a particular photo, I think the best way to go is to just honestly state so in your item description, along with the best description you can come up with for what the piece looks like in real life. Refer to the images you've included in your listing for comparison to help give people a better idea of what to expect.

I also mentioned effects, and this is a particularly annoying thing I've actually seen some people do, mostly on eBay. I haven't seen any obvious example of it on Etsy; just another reason I love that community! Granted, all image editing is an "effect" to some extent, in the sense that it manipulates the original pixels via mathematical logarithms, but I'm referring to things like adding fake sparkles to crystals or fake light reflections. Admittedly, I'm particularly interested in image editing, but I'm far from an expert and even I can spot the glaring deception. No biggie for me, I cluck disapprovingly to myself, make a mental note to never shop there, and move on. What concerns me is that there are so many people who have no reason to know or care about this stuff, just see the pretty sparkles, and buy. I guess that would be fine if they were actually going to get what they were expecting from the photos, but I've particularly seen this technique used by sellers who are offering so-called Swarovski crystals at obvious non-Swarovski prices.

My suspicion is that these are actually glass products being called crystals to increase sales. I know from experience that this happens, because I bought one time from a seller I didn't know, thinking I was getting a great price on crystals. It took me a little while to figure out exactly what, but I realized there was something off about them pretty quickly. The color wasn't even, the facets didn't meet exactly, and the shape and size of the bicones differed from each other. After some research, I concluded they were most likely Czech glass or maybe a Celestial Crystal product. Both beautiful alternatives, just not the Swarovski crystals I had ordered, was expecting, and would've sold to customers as such if I hadn't made sure to investigate. If you buy or use Swarovski products, there's a great little guide at Fire Mountain Gems to help you ensure you're getting the real thing.

The best way is to find a reputable seller you like and just stick with them no matter what wonderful deal you may think you'd be getting elsewhere. It doesn't have to be a big seller - I've bought from some great shops on Etsy that are trusted resources. I just think that too much shopping around in pursuit of cheaper prices can open you up to more deceptive sellers and end up costing more in the long run. Well, this was much longer than planned! Thanks for reading if you got this far. Hope this was helpful to someone, and I hope you have a great day!

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