Have you ever wondered why jewelers use magnifying loupes (pronounced loops) to examine diamonds, precious stones, etc., meticulously?
Well, you aren't the only one.
Magnifying loupes are essential items in any jeweler's box. Without them, they can't do their job properly.
In this article, we'll cover how these special lenses help jewelers, which type of loupe lenses are best to purchase, and how you can use one if that's what you are in to!
What Is a Magnifying Loupe?
A loupe is a magnifier used by jewelry professionals to inspect the clarity and any cutting mistakes in gemstones and other jewelry.
These magnifying loupes include special lenses that let our eyes focus on an item at a much closer distance than is usually allowed, making the thing look larger and displaying microscopic details that our normal vision would miss.
The magnifying glass is about half an inch in diameter, has a magnification range of ten to twenty times, and commonly folds in on itself for easy carrying.
Fun fact: Some jewelers wear a loupe as a pendant around their neck.
Single Lens Loupes: These types of loupes are generally of poor quality. They usually end up distorting the object you're trying to magnify and add flashes of color that obscure the view.
Triple Lens Loupes: As the name suggests, these loupes use three magnifying glasses to amplify the object. The way the lenses are placed corrects any distortion and color errors.
Loupes are used in many industries besides the jewelry industry. They can benefit any profession that requires precision work, as they help people complete tasks more easily and efficiently.
Here are some of the main uses for loupes:
Gemology and Jewelry
Jewelers typically use handheld, monocular loupes to magnify gemstones and other jewelry components. Typically, a 10x magnification loupe can help you inspect rings and different jewelry hallmarks. A 10x magnification loupe is what the Gemologist Institute of America uses for grading diamond clarity.
Loupes can also help watchmakers assemble mechanical watches. Many aspects of watchmaking require the use of the loupe, and you can use them to help build the watch mechanism itself and to assemble details of the watch’s dial. Watchmakers also use loupes to form watch straps and install precious stones into the watch face.
Analog photographers use loupes to edit, analyze, and review slides and negatives on a light table. The typical magnification needed to view slides full-frame will depend on the image format.
Dentists, dental therapists, and hygienists often use binocular loupes so they can see closely while keeping their hands free to perform procedures. The loupe’s magnification helps dentists accurately diagnose oral conditions, and they can also help enhance surgical precision when completing treatment.
Loupes can also help improve posture and decrease occupational strain.
How To Use Magnifying Loupes
When using a loupe, the most common mistake is not resting it against something to keep its range of view constant.
Moving the loupe instead of the jewelry is the second biggest mistake people make. Both errors make it difficult to maintain a consistent and concentrated perspective.
Learning to use a loupe is straightforward, but mastering it may take several tries. The first thing you should do (and what many people miss) is to place your loupe in front of your eye. It's best to keep it at a distance of no more than an inch. To keep the loupe stable and relaxed, place a finger or the back of your palm against your face.
The object (gemstones, diamonds, etc.) we want to see is then brought into our field of view. You'll need to bring the ring, or diamond, within an inch or two of the loupe with multiple loupes.
Again, do not move the loupe; instead, move the jewelry or gemstone you are looking at to bring it into focus and to bring it into view.
You'll get a highly solid and jitter-free view of your jewelry if you maintain the hand holding the jewelry against the other hand holding the loupe.
How To Hold It
Try to make a tripod with your hands. Do this by bracing your wrists against your face. Then hold the magnifier in one hand and the jewelry in the other.
Also, don't forget that loupes come with instructions.
It can be difficult to adjust to focusing on little items at first, but with experience, you'll better understand how far the loupe should be from your eye and the item being enlarged.
The more you do it the more accustomed you will get. It won't take long for you to figure out how to handle the tool properly, and then you'll be hooked — and off to examine every piece of jewelry you own! Just try to have fun with it!
Don't Forget To Stabilize the Thumb
Rest your thumb against your cheek to keep the loupe steady while you hold it up to your eye to gaze through it.
The magnifier will stay focused if you rest your thumb on your cheek. You can now use your other hand to bring the diamond ring up to the lens with the 10x jeweler's loupe magnification.
Bring it to a distance of about 1/2 inch. You'll be able to pinpoint the distance you'll need to be in for your eyes with practice.
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Move the Gem and Use Both Eyes
When examining the stone, move the gem and not the loupe. Keeping the loupe as steady as possible will help you maintain your focus.
Additionally, while it can be tempting to close one eye, you should always keep both eyes open when using a loupe, as this will reduce eye strain.
Check Your Light Source and Place the Light Behind the Stone
Make sure you have a good light source before inspecting the stone. You don’t want the room to be too bright or dark. Avoid intense LED lighting, as it can be too harsh for this situation. Overhead illumination works best, as this will decrease the risk of casting shadows on the gem.
To see inside the stone properly, place a light source behind the stone and shine the light through it. This will allow you to study the inclusions in the gem.
For some diamonds, placing the light source behind the stone may be distracting, but this tip works especially well for colored gemstones.
Study the Gem With the Naked Eye First
While it’s tempting to use the loupe immediately, you should always study the gem with the naked eye first. If you only use your loupe to view the gem, you may miss out on some essential features.
Clean Before Inspection
You should also clean the jewelry before you inspect it. This will ensure that you won’t mistake any dirt or dust for inclusions. You can clean the gemstone by soaking it in ethyl alcohol, then drying it with a lint-free cloth. Or, you can have a professional jeweler clean the stone.
How To Choose The Right Loupe
When purchasing a loupe, the first factor to consider is how much magnification the lens has.
Loupes are available in magnifications ranging from 2x to 30x and even higher.
It is best to use a 10x loupe since this is the magnification that the gem grading labs use to grade diamonds.
Things seen via the loupe appear to be 10x times larger than they actually are.
Remember that more magnification may give you an unrealistic perspective of your jewelry, while less magnification may not show enough detail.
The number of lenses in a loupe is the next consideration. A single lens is common in low-cost loupes. These are good for casual use, but they may cause difficulty with focus and clarity.
A triplet loupe contains three lenses that correct your magnification for the clearest possible vision and assist in the correction of any color abnormalities caused by reflected light.
Finally, the body of your loupe should be black. The body that houses the lenses is black, which helps to reduce reflections and does not introduce any outside color, such as silver, gold, or a reflecting loupe body may.
If you are still unsure what type of lens you should get, we at LaCkore Couture can help you. And while you are at it, check out our other merch like bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings, and even gift cards!
Loupe Terminology You Should Know
- Focal Length: The distance between the loupe and the object at which you want to acquire the best focus and magnification. The focal length of a lens reduces as the magnification power increases.
- Field of View: The region's size seen through the lens is referred to as this. The field of view is influenced by the lens diameter as well as magnification power; the higher the power, the smaller the view.
- Depth of Field: This property indicates how far you may move the loupe towards or away from an object while keeping it in focus. The shorter the depth of field, the higher the power.
A jeweler's loupe is a magnifying instrument that allows jewelers and others who work with small objects to see them more clearly.
There are various sorts of jewelers loupes, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
We hope that our guide will assist you in understanding how to use a jewelers loupe.