That Certain Sparkle: A Lighting Expert Reveals Common Mistakes Jewelers Make When Illuminating Their Cases

Vijay Paul, general manager for Miami-based jewelry lighting company Lighting 4 Diamonds, is weary of seeing colorless diamonds rendered canary yellow under outdated lighting systems. But what, when it comes to lighting, is considered outdated? We picked Paul’s brain for some common mistakes and contemporary tips when it comes to in-case illumination.

LED strip lights for jewelry cases from Lighting 4 Diamonds (courtesy of Lighting 4 Diamonds)

JCK: What do you see jewelers doing with lighting in their stores that makes you cringe?

Vijay Paul: They’re using old-fashioned halogen lights that burn really hot. The hotter a light burns, the more yellow the color is—and it gets more yellow as the light wears.

And you see some jewelers mixing all kinds of lights together. That’s not going to give you good lighting. You should use one type of bulb throughout the store so you don’t have part of the store looking cool and another part looking warm. The standard LED light is 5500 kelvin. [Kelvin is a measurement unit often used to gauge the color temperature of a light source.] That light will project beautifully against anything. If you get to 6500 to 7500 kelvin, everything starts to get washed away. Your diamonds aren’t going to look like diamonds anymore. They’re going to look like blobs of light.

JCK: What should jewelers be looking for in in-case lights?

VP: LED lights, which burn very cool and maintain consistency. And retailers need to make sure [strip] lights all have the same color lights. If a light isn’t manufactured correctly, it can include bulbs that actually [skew] to different shades, so you’ll have one that’s clean white, one that’s shaded blue, another that’s yellowish. You can classify LED lights just like you do diamonds. You want pure white light.

JCK: Is it possible for an in-case light to produce too much sparkle when bouncing off diamonds?

VP: No. You want the maximum sparkle from a diamond. You want reflectors in your light that create a sparkling effect before the light actually leaves the fixture. Our Titan light has this.

JCK: Is there any secret to angling diamonds a certain way to produce maximum sparkle in the case?

VP: You should always have the light shining almost directly on top of the product. Placing lights in the front of the case is always best. When you’re displaying necklaces on neck displays or rings, you particularly don’t want the light to be in the back.

JCK: When lighting metal pieces that don’t feature gems, what do you recommend?

VP: I still like 5500 kelvin LED lights, but you can go down to 4500 kelvin for a little warmer color. People ask for 3000 kelvin sometimes, but they always end up trading them in for 4500 or above.

JCK: Do LED lights dim over time? How often do you have to replace them?

VP: They don’t really dim, but every LED light is rated on a color index scale so they might change color slightly. So with an average lifespan of 50,000 hours, you should start to replace them when you reach around 35,000 hours. And you don’t have to worry. That’s a very long time.

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JCK Magazine Editor