"no name" refractometer

In response to Donald Clark’s piece on the “no name” refractometer, I just wanted to pass on my experience. I bought it through Amazon via Sportwarehouse in Washington who advertised this particular piece as ADE which is not listed as one of their products on their site. The light source was scratched, the table looked like a poor attempt at cleaning it, no proper instructions and sent in a cheap zippered, plastic pouch leading me to believe it was a return. This is FYI in case this reseller is not on the up and up and a warning to potential buyers. I have notified Amazon and they have opened an investigative case to follow up on my concerns.

Hey Ken please… What did you expect to get a good top quality no name refractometer cheaply maybe for a 100 bucks or even less than that from the Amazon and then you complain about the poor quality of the product? A professional brand $500 product is much better quality and more accurate than these Amazon or Ebay products, almost 100% of them these cheap wonders of East/China …And from a company named as Sportwarehouse? Yes,the company name sounds so related to gemology… not even going to google that company… for a $50-$100 price product you can’t expect a $500-$700 product quality… please… a bit of realism to the game so to say…

Hey Tomi please, I apologize for not being as knowledgeable as you are. I am 72 and just started getting into gemology as a hobby. Don’t know how old you are and how much wisdom you’ve accumulated over that time but in my lifetime I’ve seen products which were the same quality but the pricing was not even close to parity. Your wisdom was not available to me when I searched for refractometer reviews. Most of the comments were positive so I decided being this was the beginning of a hobby I would go with majority. So to judge my “realism” was sort of adolescent. If folks want to get into gemology and have to put up with a pompous know it all like you should give a person reason enough to collect sports cards. Just to add a little “realism” to the subject, when I was in the service in the 60s the government was paying $27 for bolts for their missile sites which were $2.75 at a downtown hardware store…same metallic makeup. So to suggest you are aware of that pricing is standard for any product shows your lack of understanding of basic facts about product pricing in general. I was just trying to help others that may have an interest in gemology to be more careful in their purchases. So you take your arrogant attitude and save it for some of your ilk but leave the newbies to more sensitive and understanding individuals Tomi!

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Way to go Tomi. Congragulations on your new hobby. You will or probably find most people interested in gemology to be friendly and helpful. As Im sure you have learned in your considerable experiance on earth there are always those people. Lol
Enjoy and have a ball. Bob

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Thank you for your encouragement Bob. I’m loving it so far and had a great conversation with Jeff Wildman when I ordered his refractometer. Jeff took time to share some great advice and guidance which was very much appreciated.

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Your very welcome. I started faceting 3 years ago. Self taught with the help of friendly folks. Havibg a ball and my girlfriend has some beautiful things we could not afford to buy. Tha USFG website is free or you can join for 18 dollars a year. Not nessary to read most everything. Friendly folks. If I can ever be of any help feel free to email me. Im not on this site very often. Time time time. Lol. Enjoy Bob

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Congrats on the hobby. I’ve been collecting gemstones for several years with my partner. The refractometer we have is a good quality unit. Gemvue is the company name about $280.00
FYI I’m 60 and my partner is 71. Remember if it sounds to good to be true…
Have fun

Good to hear from you Bob. I have accumulated hundreds of faceted and rough stones over the years and because of my age I would like to leave my children with an organized and reliable account of the inventory. My wife and I own/operate a motel in Cody, WY close to Yellowstone National Park. I would like to find a gemologist that would be willing to trade his/her knowledge to identify and categorize my collection for a stay at our motel. There is so much to do in this area aside from Yellowstone, which is a heaven send for gemologists of all kind. I have most of the equipment to identify material including a decent microscope. Hoping to hear from qualified folks that would like to take advantage of this offer. We have a complete apartment type available. Again, nice to visit with you. Have a perfect day!

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Thanks for the comeback and please check out my response to Bob as you may know of someone who may want to take advantage of my offer. Have a great weekend! Ken

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Good afternoon. I studied for 2 years before I started faceting. I bought a late copy of the GIA colored stone course. I paid 189.00 for the complete set of course materials. I also purchased the Gia Gem Reference Guide. Between these materials I was able to educate myself without spending 38,000 dollars in the identifacation of colored stones. I didn’t need the rest of the schooling for my purposes. I needed to make sure I didn’t get taken advantage of purchasing rough. Best investment I’ve made. The material came with all the questions also. They were filled in so I had my girl block them out. Lol. I have gathered a complete gem ID lab. Microscopes Specific gravity refractometer chelsa and ruby filters polariscope both types of spectroscopes. They were tricky to learn. Immersion chamber. Fiber optic and ultraviolet lights. I’ll be 59 this year. Never thought I would start something like this. Lol. If you can get a copy of the gem reference guide and have the equipment you should have no problem IDing them yourself. If I can help let me know. Thanks Bob Lawrence

In reference to the cheap Chinese knockoff refractometers…

It has been known for years that these refractometers are not to the exacting standards of a Duplex II. And, even with an extremely expensive Eickhorste… you still don’t have the ability to take a “spot” read as with a Duplex II, or a Rayner Dialdex… So, with that being said to help get the attention of the pro’s also.

The Chinese refractometers are generally off by about +/- .003… The trick is to find out whether it’s +.003 or -.003… and on which end of the scale.
I started on one of these Chinese units… and I still have it 10 years later! although I have a Duplex II also.
So, as far as functionality, YES they work!

Now back to the issue at hand,

We know the Chinese unit will be off a bit,
so we take a small quarts block, and a decent Sapphire, down to our local non chain jewelry store. Have a wonderful 1/2 hour conversation with a true professional…

From our new friend, we learn the exact reference numbers of our quartz and sapphire.

Then, we journey home and set our refractometer up, and see if our scale matches with that of our friend the professional jeweler.

This is how I learned that my Chinese unit, is one of the more common ones that is .003 out on the high end of the scale.

My piece of quartz is 1.544 on the ordinary ray, which is what I had seen in the viewfinder of my Chinese refractometer.

My sapphire is 1.763 - 1.776, when viewed through my Chinese refractometer appears as very close to 1.77 - 1.78

While this is pretty close, I will admit that it is not adequate for the difficult separations, although many of those are with stones that have overlapping refractive indices. Which is why we learn to use the other tools of the trade as well.

If identifying stones could be done with refractometer alone… there would be no separation between tourmaline and apatite, as well as several others that come to mind.

So the bottom line is that they will work fine if you determine the calibration of the unit.

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