The Microscope: A Guide for Gemologists
Sometimes, microscopic inclusions are the only way to distinguish natural from synthetic gems. This makes the microscope an essential lab instrument for gemologists trying to identify gemstones.
13 Minute Read
How Much Magnification do You Need?
You can identify most gems with just 40 power. However, you can’t identify all gems without more magnification. While 80 power has long been considered adequate, new and higher quality synthetics sometimes require even more magnification.
While you only need a 10X loupe for gem grading, a microscope will give you a larger field of view and a brighter image. It will also show alterations like fillings, dye concentrations, assembled stones, and diffusion treatments.
Many gemologists use their microscopes for taking photographs for their appraisals. It’s also a useful sales tool. For example, you can show customers identifying features or why the prongs on a jewelry piece need replacing. In addition, seeing a gem under magnification is impressive. Gemstone photomicrography can produce fantastic images.
Microscopes can easily cost more than $5,000. Not surprisingly, new gemologists often agonize over how much they should spend. While the better scopes are easier to use, you can make compromises without sacrificing utility. Very good microscopes are available for just a few hundred dollars. Also, understand that your skills are more important than the quality of the microscope or how many…
Donald Clark, CSM IMG
The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”
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