Today, a woman I work with who makes charms with your picture in them (http://www.bostonbragbracelet.com/), asked me who does all the photography on our site.
Me, I answered! She was amazed, and asked how I take such great pictures. Let me tell you how amazing this makes me feel. I've worked VERY hard to improve my photography skills over the past few years, and having a neutral party (sorry Shannon, you're not neutral!) tell me how impressive it is, that's the best feeling.
So I thought I'd offer my tips (most of which I've picked up from various online sites) for photographing jewelry:
2 or 3 lamps
Natural light bulbs (they're a bluish color)
A tripod - this is a MUST
My best props are two different colors of floor tile, picked up at home depot. One lightly colored, one slate gray.
A mug or bowl to hang earrings on
A prop hand/wrist
This doesn't have to be fancy. I use an Exilim EX-Z250, but i used to use the Z75.
Macro setting. The Casio Exilim's have a "flower" best shot mode that works awesome
Tungsten white balance is usually the best, though you probably can get away with auto white balance
Tips - play with different modes. You'll almost always need macro for jewelry photography. But check out different ISO's, white balance and brightness settings, etc. And take plenty of photos, from all different angles. Some above the item, some right at eye level, some on the props, some closeup of just a section of the piece, whatever possibilities you can think of.
Later, for Etsy, you'll need 5 photos for your listing. So as you go through your photos, delete any that are blurry or just not useable right away. Use GIMP (or another editor of your choice) to lighten, sharpen, crop, and color adjust your photos. Cropping is a big tip I just really learned about. A cropped photo can look super creative, and if you look at other eyecatching Etsy listings, you'll see that these people usually crop their photo in very cool ways.