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Dear IGS members,
Just wanted to open a discussion on microscopic tools.
I am currently looking for the state-of-the-art microscopy for my lab. The typical GIA gem microscope (trinocular up to x90 magnification and dark field illuminations) with integrated camera is obviously an excellent tool. However, I found them quite limited to their usage. I am looking for something more versatile, with possibilities of examining jewelry work, rough stones, as well as identifying gemstones…
I am kindly calling on the IGS experts and experienced amateurs to share their precious knowledge in helping us finding the best solution.

I’m a little confused by this question…I don’t have a current model trinocular stereo microscope, but I do have a standard flat stage stereo microscope and an older retro-style Gemoscope and both can be used to view rough and jewlery and to assist in gem ID. The stone holder and dark field illumination are useful for viewing cut stones, but there are even workarounds for that with bases without darkfield. Just insert the stone in a suitable size washer and illuminate from underneath and you have dark field illumination. Any stereo microscope with about 7X to 30X could be used for what you’re asking…just use a 2X attachment and/or a pair of 20X eyepieces for higher powers. Swing the stone holder out of the way and use other holders for bigger work.

You would have to say more about what you find limiting in the typical GIA scopes. I would look at any current or older GIA type scope for the tasks you list, preferrably with dark field and iris for examining cut stones and the overhead daylight temp light for diamond grading…with the proviso that those with smaller budgets could probably rig some acceptable lighting for dark field and for grading.

You and others need to be aware that older stereo microscopes which are perfectly adequate and newer, cheaper models from China can be had for about $300-$400, albeit not with standard dark field illumination, and older Gemoscopes and similar can be had for about $1200 or so, while new GIA scopes seem to retail for about $4000+ dollars. The more expensive scopes would be for those who need them as “window dressing” for an appraisal practice or high end sales, or will be using them constantly day to day. Others may want to settle for something older or somewhat less convenient, but more affordable. HTH, royjohn

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Hi RoyJohn,
Thank you for your message. I really appreciate your detailed answer. It is very helpful.
I guess I am confused myself, wanting to try to observe many things with only one microsocope.
Most of it, is due to the fact that there are so many new technologies especially with those digital microscopes i.e. industrial 3D camera x2000 with fast auto-focus. That make me think that it may be it is worth getting something like that to be versatile.

Hi LaurentB,
Glad the info might be helpful. Offhand, I think high magnification of over 30X is only necessary when looking for curved striae (synthetic corundum) and maybe some other inclusions. For that, 60X, maybe a little more…in classical gemology, I can’t think of any reason you’d need higher magnification…if there is one, it is some new development of which I’m unaware. As I said, any standard stereo microscope will do for gemology, its value being identifying inclusions. It used to be you needed an expensive edition of Koivula and Gubelein for ID, but nowadays there are some sites with large collections of inclusion photos. It is nice to have an attached overhead light and one underneath with an iris diaphragm along with an included stone holder, but there are workarounds if you don’t have these. With the little gooseneck LED lamps available at the dollar stores, you can rig about anything you need with some BluTack. An add-on stoneholder can be had from ebay…so you can pick your price anywhere from about $300 on up…it’s really a matter of learning to use it well. -royjohn

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Hi Lauren - you might have a look at the Eickhorst product:

I have used this scope for nearly 40 years and have yet to find anything better constructed or thought out; I was Hermann Eickhorst’s first US distributor back in the 1970s and have a variety of other of his tools - all superb and still state-of-the-art.