John Cordova (Vice President of Human Resources, Robbins Bros.) gives expert video advice on: What is a loupe?; Why is viewing a diamond under a microscope better than using a loupe?; Why is 10x magnification the industry standard? and more...
What is a loupe?
A loupe is a handheld device that's used for magnification. The jewelry industry standard is a 10 power loupe. That, in the hands of a trained professional, is a very, very effective tool for determining the quality of a diamond. Most often it's used to identify surface blemishes or to identify nicks, pits, or cracks. It's even used to determine whether the prongs that are holding your diamond in are in need of repair. What's recommended by jewelers, is to use a stereo binocular microscope. The stereo binocular microscope is something similar to what you used in science class when you were a kid. And you get to use both eyes. There's a light source. There's a lever that moves the microscope up and down and allows you to really examine that diamond from the surface all the way to the bottom, and it helps you to identify all of the internal characteristics. So we recommend that you use a stereo binocular microscope at every chance you get when looking at diamonds.
Why is viewing a diamond under a microscope better than using a loupe?
The stereo binocular microscope offers quite a few advantages over the standard loupe. The microscope has a light source within it, and it has actually several different shades of this light source to help you view a diamond under several different conditions. Most importantly, it has a built-in set of tweezers, a mechanism that actually holds the diamond in place for you. You can adjust that mechanism to give you any angle of view that you want, and leave it at that angle for as long as you want to examine that diamond. It really makes the examination of the diamond - takes it out of the hands of the professionals and gives those of us that just want to enjoy the beauty of a diamond a chance to look at it in the way a professional can.
Why is 10x magnification the industry standard?
Ten times' magnification is the standard magnification in the industry as a result of the creation of the clarity rating scale. It was created as a standard and it is used throughout. Now, what does that mean? It means that a diamond that is graded as flawless, means that under 10x magnification there are no markings visible. However, because a diamond is a natural substance, if you crank that microscope up to 20x or 30x, you will be able to see markings - even in a flawless diamond.
What should I focus on when looking at a diamond under magnification?
When looking at a diamond under magnification, there are several things that you would want to focus on. The first and foremost, obviously, is the C of clarity. You want to take a look at what's in that diamond. Now, many people are under the impression that inclusions are a bad thing. That couldn't be further from the truth. At some point, when the inclusions are so minute that you can't see them with the naked eye, they become very valuable in identifying your diamond, because there are no two diamonds anywhere that have inclusions in exactly the same places. So when you use a microscope you look for where those markings are as a means of identifying your diamond as yours. The other things that you look for are abrasions on the surface, nicks or cavities or cracks that may affect the structural integrity of the diamond and even markings that will affect the beauty and brilliance of it. For the most part though, it's to make sure you're getting exactly what you're being told you're getting and that the markings aren't so prevalent that they impact the beauty and brilliance of the diamond.
What does magnification tell me about a diamond?
Viewing a diamond under ten-power magnification will show you where the markings are. What that can tell you is whether the diamond that you are viewing is the match for the diamond that is depicted on any certificate or what the sales associate is telling you you're viewing. Viewing the diamond under the microscope can also tell you a few things, and those are really subjective, do I like the markings? Does the fact that one of the markings in there is actually garnet make me like the diamond more or make me like the diamond less? It is really an educational process that goes into the makeup of how you make a decision for the diamond. So viewing a diamond under the microscope is recommended for a variety of reasons, and your jewelry professional should be able to help you along those lines.