Step 3: Practical Gemology

Lesson 2

Sometimes, microscopic inclusions and color banding are the only way to distinguish natural from synthetic gems. This makes the microscope an essential lab instrument for gemologists trying to identify gemstones.

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.

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.

Microscope Features

Microscopes can easily cost more than $5,000. Not surprisingly, new gemologists often agonize over how much they should spend. While the better…