If you had been checking out the content on Beyond4Cs.com, you probably had seen the amount of clear images and magnified photographs we provide in our tutorials.
However, if you expect to get the same level of details at a local brick and mortar jewelry store, you better get ready to be disappointed. At best, most stores would only provide you with a jeweler’s loupe to examine the diamond yourself.
Basically, a “jeweler’s loupe” is a folding magnifying glass that features lens between eighteen and twenty-one millimeters. The standard magnification a loupe provides is 10X and this is sufficient for many applications.
For people who currently don’t have a loupe to practice with or are considering buying one, both Kassoy and Jewelry Supply are reputable places to get something decent. For the purpose of inspecting diamonds, I recommend getting a loupe with achromatic, aplanatic triplet lens. These typically cost between $20-$30.
Obviously, the main reason for using a jeweler’s loupe is to inspect the diamond for any issues related to its clarity. Now, I know many people may think that having a grading report and its clarity plot would be sufficient. Why do you still need to loupe the diamond?
There are a few good reasons why. Here are some of the things that I would look out for if I were buying a diamond. If I see a feather in a VS2 or SI1 diamond being listed in the clarity plot, I want to check if the feather is surface breaking or whether it is close to the surface. Likewise, if I see clouds and twinning wisps in the diamond, I want to know what whether if the cloud is dense and whether the twinning wisps are black in color.
Besides clarity, you can also determine the cut quality of the stone (facets alignment and proportions) if you know how and where to look with a loupe.
For the general consumer, here are a few other reasons why learning to loupe a diamond is a useful skill. When inspecting a diamond ring under the 10X loupe, you want to get a rough idea on where the inclusions are. This will quickly tell you 2 things.
Firstly, does the diamond match up to the inclusion plot as stated in the grading report? Besides using inclusions for identification purposes, you could also check the girdle inscriptions for a double verification.
Secondly, once you had positively identified the inclusions within the diamond, remove the loupe and look at the diamond to see if you can spot the inclusions with the naked eye. If you can, the stone isn’t eye clean and you might want to reconsider another option.
There do exist high powered loupes and they are usually used for discerning finer details like reading laser inscriptions or identifying the type of inclusions in a gemstone. So, if a higher powered loupe can be used for finer details, why shouldn’t you skip the 10X and go straight to 50X?
40X Illuminated Loupe – Is It an Overkill?
Unfortunately, there are certain trade-offs to using loupes with higher powered magnification. As magnification strength increases, the loupe becomes harder to use due to a smaller field of view.
Using such loupes places more strain onto the eyes as the working distance drastically decreases. For this reason, binocular microscopes are more comfortable to work with when you need to examine an object at higher magnification.
Preparing yourself and your environment for inspection is a critical step even though it might sound obvious and unnecessary. First of all, never touch a diamond with your bare hands. This is because diamonds are notoriously known for being grease magnets and you need a clean diamond surface for accurate inspection.
The second step is to ensure you have a proper light source that isn’t too dark or too bright. Fluorescent or diffused light sources are the best types of lighting for jewelry inspection. Remember, you are not revealing photography in a red light room.
The purpose of this inspection is to see potential problems and the make of the diamond in detail. If you are in the jewelry store, you might want to request the spotlighting sources to be turned down while you perform the examination. Otherwise, find a location in the store where the spot lighting isn’t blinding to your eyes.
When done by professionals, the inspection of diamonds is usually performed using tweezers. If you are new and have no experience with handling tweezers, try to get some practice in holding a diamond before you actually loupe it. You definitely don’t want to drop the diamond while handling it.
Did you know that experienced jewelers never touch gem stones with their bare hands? There is a reason for this. If you are going to smudge up the stone with your fingerprints, how would you be able to tell apart the inclusions from the smudges you had just introduced?
Prior practice with the tweezers will help you gauge the right amount of force to use without straining your hands for prolonged examinations. Now, there’s something else you need to take note about. The use of excessive force with a pair of tweezers might cause the diamond to chip if it has extremely thin girdle edges or sharp pointed tips (heart and pear shapes).
For people who aren’t confident about using a pair of normal tweezers, the next best alternatives are locking tweezers or claw grip tweezers. These tools will help you keep the diamond securely in place without fear of dropping the diamond accidentally.
Once you are ready to perform the inspection, bring it close to your eyes and place the loupe between your eye and the diamond. I recommend that you rest the hand holding the loupe on your face so that it doesn’t wobble. You can also tuck in your arms to your body to keep them from shaking too much. If you are familiar with photography, the concept here is somewhat similar. You basically want to reduce any unnecessary motion.
At first, the image you see will probably look a little blurry as the image isn’t focused. To adjust the focusing, shift the hand holding the tweezers inwards and outwards until you get a sharp image. You should be keeping your louping hand still at all times.
Once in focus, check the diamond’s face up view and make a mental note of what you see. You should inspect the diamond from different tilt angles to check if you missed out any minor inclusions. Finally, verify whatever you see against the lab report. If you see anything that appears foreign and cannot be identified, ask your jeweler for further clarification.