I recently completed a photo shoot for a client that was on a tight schedule. They had purchased some discounted ad space with a fast approaching "deadline for materials" date and wanted a photo that was fresh. After the main subject is selected, I try to get the best product sample that is available. In this case, my subject was a piece of metal industrial hardware. Being that their warehouse was on site, I select the best piece available with regards to cosmetics. The reality of some industrial hardware is that it is not always "blemish free", so I aim to select a sample without scratches or cosmetic defects. When shooting any object, especially a small one, the biggest enemies can be dust and dirt. Proper preparation and cleaning go a long way in saving retouch time.
Proper prep and cleaning transfer into stock photography too, especially if you do a lot of object shooting. Be sure your work area is absolutely clean. I have a nice 3 inch wide plain nylon paintbrush that I will use to whisk away particles on my shooting surface just before the object is placed. The nylon brush will develop a very small staic charge, and te dust particles will actually be attrated to it. Even on white seamless, for closeups, dust and little threads etc will show up. It's of course, much worse when shooting on black. When shooting very small objects, a handheld magnifier and a pair of tweezers, plus a hand blower like the Gitzo Rocket can be helpful in removing those last particles, like those little nasty threads that like to attach themselves to jewelry.
Photo credits: Niagaragirl, Edward Westmacott.