How To Use A Jeweler's Loupe

It has become more common for jewelry owners to own their own magnifiers for looking at their jewelry and gems. Unfortunately not everyone is taught how to use a loupe properly. Using a loupe is not difficult, but it does require that you use it consistently and properly when you examine your own jewelry for identifying characteristics, cracks, chips, or other damage without having to go to a jeweler for a quick inspection when you think that you may have damaged your jewelry.

Using a loupe:

The biggest mistake that most people make when using a loupe is not resting it against something to steady their field of view. The second, and related mistake is moving the loupe around instead of the jewelry. Both mistakes make it difficult to get a consistent and focused view.

Using a loupe is a simple thing to learn but may take many tries to master. The first thing that you want to do is hold your loupe up to your eye. I like to hold mine no farther than an inch away. Rest a finger or the back of your hand against your face to help you keep the loupe stable and relaxed.

Next we bring the object we want to view into our field of view. With many loupes you will need to bring the ring, or diamond, within an inch or two of the loupe. Do not move the loupe around, move just the jewelry or gemstone you are viewing to bring it into view and to focus on exactly what you want to see. If you can also brace the hand holding the jewelry against the hand holding the loupe you will have a very stable and jitter free view of your jewelry.

Selecting a loupe:

Selecting the proper loupe to use can be as important as using it properly. When purchasing a loupe for yourself there are several things that you should consider.

The first thing to look at is the magnification. Loupes can be found with 2x up to 30x, or even more, magnification. For our purposes it is best to use a 10x loupe since this is the magnification that is used by the gem grading labs to grade diamonds. The 10x means that things seen through the loupe appear to be 10x larger than their actual size. Less magnification may not show enough detail, while more magnification may give you an unrealistic view of your jewelry.

The next thing to look at is the number of lenses a loupe has. The inexpensive loupes tend to have a single lens. These are fine for casual use, but may introduce focus and clarity issues. A triplet loupe has three lenses that correct your magnification to present the clearest possible view and help correct any color issues that may be introduced by reflected light.

Finally, your loupe should also have a black body. The black color of the body that holds the lenses helps to cut down on reflections and does not introduce any outside color like silver, gold or a reflective loupe body may.