Not Just for the Experts

Of all the special tools used in the diamond and jewelry industry this might be the most recognizable.  A jeweler’s loupe, pronounced loop, is basically a fancy magnifying glass.  Loupes, sometimes referred to as hand lenses, are easy to use and have become an invaluable tool for jewelers as well as diamond buyers alike.

What is a loupe?

A loupe is a magnification tool used to inspect diamonds during the certification process, by a jeweler inspecting a stone or by a diamond buyer.  The loupe has either one or three lenses, and magnifies an object multiple times for easier viewing of tiny details.  Loupes may be hand-held, attached to a visor or mounted on a stand.  Professionals involved in diamond grading and certification generally use a three lens loupe with 10x magnification, meaning the diamond appears ten times as large as it really is.

Uses of a loupe

A loupe will show you what the naked eye cannot.  At 10 times magnification a loupe is perfect to asses diamond inclusions which are internal as well as diamond blemishes which are external.  If you want to get fancy a loupe can be used to assess diamond polish, diamond finish and diamond symmetry.  However it’s best to leave the tough stuff to the professionals.

A diamond loupe is not a replacement for diamond certification.

For a more detailed evaluation, certification companies use a diamond scope.  As you can imagine, the scope is used to examine many things.  For example: diamond cut, diamond symmetry as it pertains to diamond facets, diamond color, evaluating the overall diamond shape, diamond polish, the overall anatomy of a diamond including the proportions as it affects diamond carat weight in addition to inclusions and blemishes.

Aside from evaluating gemstones and jewelry, loupes are used in many fields and industries, such as watchmaking, photography, printing, geology and dentistry.

Measurements of a loupe

The different parts of a loupe that combine to magnify a diamond for evaluation and certification include the number of lenses, size of the lenses, magnification strength, focal range and lens material.  The most popular loupe used for diamond inspection is a triple lens loupe with 10x magnification.  A loupe with 18mm lenses is an adequate size for evaluating diamonds.

Buying your own loupe

While not necessary some people like to have their own loop.  You can purchase a loupe for anywhere from a couple of dollars to over $100.  The 10x loupes most often used for evaluating diamonds are available for $10-35.  Professional quality loupes usually include hinges made of roll pins and a leather casing.  If you will use a loupe frequently or for long periods of time it is worth purchasing a better quality loupe in order to avoid eye strain.  For insider tips click on how to use a jewelry loupe.

Early diamond evaluation

The loupe and the magnifying glass were first invented by Robert Bacon in 1250.  Bacon experimented extensively in the field of optics, resulting in lenses for many uses, including corrective lenses for eyeglasses.  Bacon’s invention played an increasingly significant role with diamond cutting and refinement techniques growing in the 1800s.

Learn more about other tools used of the trade by clicking on diamond loupes & diamond grading tools.

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