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Last updated: March 03, 2021
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Did you know that sometimes microscopic illusion is the only way to know whether a gem is natural or synthetic? Gemologists and jewelers use this type of microscopes to evaluate precious stones to determine their value and set the overall grade as well as the cost. There are other techniques that experts use to assess the gems but using a microscope is the most preferred method since the results are accurate.
In this article, we review six of the best gemological microscopes in the market. We focus on the fundamental features to rate the different brands that we evaluate accordingly. The elements that we pay attention to are type, magnification, head, working distance, focus, and illumination. These features are essential for the normal functioning of a gemological microscope. Reviewing these elements is vital as they affect the performance of the microscope. Knowing the features to review is essential to help you make an informed choice.
The Levenhuk DTX 500 LCD Digital Microscope is one of the best gemological microscopes that you will come across in both virtual and land-based stores. It is a digital microscope with a host of desirable features that enhance the functions of the unit.
This microscope is suitable for jewelry observation, but its uses do not end here. You can use it for observing opaque samples, high precision work, and insect scrutiny.
The head of this unit is a 3.5-inch color LCD display that allows the user to observe samples under magnification of 20x to 500x. This magnification range makes it possible for you to get a clear image of the specimen under observation.
This gemological microscope allows you to save the results of your work as an image or video to MicroSD card. Eight in-built LED lights evenly illuminate the working surface, and they use minimal energy. This helps conserve the energy from the Li-ion batteries that the unit utilizes to perform different tasks.
The 0 to 150 mm focus is manual. The manufacturer includes buttons in the design to make it easier for you to alter the brightness, exposure, and color balance for crystal-clear images.
What we liked:
This gemological microscope has an array of desirable features, and it comes equipped with a weighing scale.
What could be better:
The manufacturer should provide all the necessary information, such as the working distance.
Bresser Science ADL-601F is a biological microscope with a wide range of applications. The design and construction of this unit are top-notch, guaranteeing durability and superior performance in different settings, including evaluating precious stones.
The focus and working distance information is missing for this unit. Before placing an order for the same, it is best to request these details from the seller as they are vital for the microscope’s functioning.
The trinocular head allows you to mount an SLR camera or a USB microscope camera using an optional adapter. This feature, combined with the adjustable mechanical stage, makes it more manageable for the user to mount and observe the specimen with minimal strain.
The magnification range for this unit is 40 – 1000 x, and the design includes LED illumination. The adjustable eye relief and diopter adjustment are the other features that make this unit popular among gemologists and experts in other fields. This is because it allows them to work for extended periods without straining.
What we liked:
The manufacturer gives a 2-year warranty for this high-quality microscope. Additionally, the design includes a host of adjustable features that make work easier.
What could be better:
All the information on the features of this unit should be readily available.
Levenhuk is one of the leading manufacturers in the optical products industry. Their units are durable with design elements that feature that make them stand out in the market. This 3ST Microscope 35323 Microscope model from them is one of the best that you will come across that allows for multiple applications.
It is a stereo microscope with a binocular head inclined at 45°. Working with this unit is comfortable thanks to the inclination and other features in the construction.
The 2.2 inches working distances makes it possible for you to observe standard samples as well as large objects such as uncut gems. The magnification is 20-40x, and this, together with the high-quality coated glass optics, depicts the images in true colors allowing you to make the right conclusions.
This unit has a matte glass stage which provides the perfect background for observation of different kinds of the specimen since this unit is a general use product. Illumination is from a 12V/10W halogen lamp with a fixed brightness.
The manufacturer gives a lifetime warranty for this product. You ought to read through the fine print with the terms and conditions of the guarantee to understand what it covers.
What we liked:
The large working distance and lower and upper halogen illumination are among the best features of this unit.
What could be better:
Levenhuk should consider increasing the length of the power cord.
Meiji Techno Stereo Microscope is a product made in Japan. It is a perfect choice for product inspection, gemology, forensics, and other applications that require sharp 3-dimensional imaging.
Most of the information on the critical features is missing for this product. Contact the seller for the type, head, focus, and illumination details to gauge whether it will deliver the results that you are after or not.
When you buy this microscope, you get a lifetime warranty. The package you receive contains EMT-2 Stereo Microscope Head, P Pole Stand with F focusing Holder and Reversible Black/White Stage Plate, 2 MA502 Super Widefield Eyepieces 10x F.N. 23.0 with 25mm Reticle Mount, Meiji Techno Dust Cover (MA703), Rubber Eye guards/ Eyeshields (Paired) (MA600), EMT, EMF, EMX Meiji Techno Instruction Manual, and the Limited Lifetime Warranty Card.
You should read through the manual to familiarize yourself with the setup and how to use this product. The magnification provides is10x, 30x (10x eyepieces). Switching between these two magnifications is easy thanks to the one-touch power switch that is part of the design.
The 81mm working distance minimizes the chances of contamination for the specimen under observation.
What we liked:
You get a lifetime warranty when you buy this microscope with a wide range of applications.
The VEVOR Micro Inlaid Mirror Multi-Directional Microscope is a unit with a unique construction that allows for close inspection of the specimen without moving it. It is a unit from a reputable company that uses premium quality materials and the finest workforce to guarantee this product’s longevity.
Superior optical performance, large zoom ratio, and long working distance are among the features that draw jewelers to this unit. It is a stereo microscope with a working distance of between 95 and 300 mm. The micro inlaid mirror has a magnification of 7-45x, making this microscope a vital tool in the jewelry industry. The construction allows for the inclusion of a micro telescopic adjustment device, which improves the image quality significantly.
The continuous zoom stereo microscope head and unique rest frame reduces fatigue and allows the user to improve the work efficiency by a wide margin. The gimbal spring brackets are a practical feature suitable for various work environments and people of different heights.
The focus information is unavailable, making it hard to buy this product without engaging the seller’s customer support team.
What we liked:
Optical mildew treatment, which improves the durability of the micro in-laid mirror, is one of the thoughtful processes that the manufacturer does for this microscope.
What could be better:
The manufacturer should ensure that no information about this product is missing.
Gemological microscopes with all the information readily available make shopping a wholesome experience for anyone looking to buy devices in this category. The AmScope SE305-PZ is one of the units that has all the necessary info explicitly listed.
This stereo microscope is an ideal choice for gemologists for various reasons. The magnification range of 10-60x makes it the best pick for observing gems and giving a clear depiction of the stone’s characteristics.
If you are looking for a multi-functional unit that will not dent your pockets, then this product may be on the top of your list. Its upper and lower halogen illumination feature makes this unit the best choice for inspecting jewelry, stamps, rocks, and biological samples, among other types of specimen. The stage clips allow the operators to hold the object under observation in place for them to get the fine details of the same.
The coarse bilateral focus and 53mm working distance is the other sought after features that this product has. The interchangeable pairs of eyepieces, adjustable interpupillary distance, and 45-degree inclination allow both adults and children to enjoy the various functions of this gemological microscope.
What we liked:
We like that this microscope has adjustments that allow both children and adults to use it.
What could be better:
The coarse focus may be challenging to sue for children.
Things to Consider
Before buying any product, the buyer needs to familiarize themself with the features of items in that category to make the right decision. Our buying guide dives deep into the intricate details of gemological microscopes and the features that one should consider when purchasing them. We also discuss some of the advantages of microscopes in this family. By the time you get to the FAQs section, which we include in this guide, you will be in a better position to select the best gemological microscope that will cater to your business’s needs.
Advantages of a gemological microscope
There are many reasons why gemologists use microscopes in their day-to-day activities. Some of the benefits of using these devices include:
Helps determine the type of gem
There are different kinds of gems on the planet, and it is hard for the naked eye to distinguish between the various alternatives available. Pros in this industry can identify the stones by sight, but they cannot give detailed information until they observe it under the microscope. Gemological microscopes come in handy in helping experts in this field identify and categorize the various types of precious stones that they come across. Over the years, it has become easier for gemologists to classify the gems due to improvements in microscopes that have enhanced their performance significantly.
Indicates whether the gem is real
The market has both synthetic and natural gems. The optical, physical, and chemical properties are similar, making it hard for one to tell the natural stones apart from the fake ones. Gemologists rely on microscopes to tell if the gem they have is natural or synthetic. This aspect is critical since the jewelers need to know what they are selling to the general population.
The prices differ for the naturally occurring gems and the human-made alternatives. Some people prefer to get real gems, while others want synthetic variations. Gemological microscopes make it possible for the experts to make the distinction.
Close inspection under the microscope enables gemologists to identify the imperfections in the gems that they have. This information is crucial to the buyers as they need to know the condition of the precious stone they are buying. Without the gemological microscopes, it would be impossible to tell whether the gem has an imperfection.
Features to consider before you buy a gemological microscope
Microscopes have different features. The fundamental ones that are vital for functionality are among those that you should consider before the extra characteristics. Here are some of the features that you should consider when buying a gemological microscope.
Manufacturers bring different types of microscopes to the market. Not all the alternatives available are ideal for appraising gems. Knowing the different alternatives available is vital in helping you make the right choice. The characteristics of the various options present determine the applications and the quality of the image that one gets to see.
Polarizing microscopes are ideal for examining minerals, rocks, and chemicals as they have both analyzer and polarizer qualities.
Biological microscopes such as the Bresser Science ADL-601F that we reviewed above have a wide range of applications, and gemologists can use them. Other options present include the inverted, metallurgical, and stereo microscopes. Important to note is that units that fall in the stereo category provide a 3D image to the user.
Magnification is an essential feature in microscopes as they determine the amount of enlargement of the specimen. Compound microscopes, also known as biological, have the highest magnifying power that goes enlarges the object up to 1000x. This means that the specimen is one thousand times bigger than the actual size. This is a vital feature to review as it dictates the sizes that you can enlarge your specimen to and the details that you can see. The Levenhuk DTX 500 LCD Digital Microscope is among the units with the highest magnification among the brands we review. It comes with a digital display and adjustments that ensure the user gets a crystal-clear image of the specimen they observe. To get to know the finer details of the gems, it is prudent to choose a unit with high magnifying power.
The head is the upper part of the microscope that contains the illumination system, prisms, and eyepiece tubes. The optical parts and the operational mechanisms are elements that you ought to review while paying attention to details as they affect the unit you buy. A monocular head, as the name suggests, has one eyepiece. A binocular one has two, while a trinocular has three.
In most cases, models with a trinocular head have the third eyepiece for camera connection to take images and videos of the specimen under observation.
Digital gemological microscopes have LCDs as opposed to the conventional type of eyepieces. The Levenhuk 3ST Microscope 35323 Microscope is an example of a binocular microscope that you will come across.
The working distance is the space between the front lens of the objective to the closest surface of the specimen under observation. This feature is crucial for gemologists as it controls the object’s size that you can place under the microscope. This distance reduces with an increase in magnification, so it is essential to check it before placing an order. It also changes depending on the type of lens that one chooses to use. For models with a small working distance, one can solve the problem using an auxiliary lens that can be placed away from the specimen but still give the desired results. VEVOR Micro Inlaid Mirror Multi-Directional Microscope is one of the units that we came across with a large working distance due to the design.
This feature helps the user achieve a sharp image of the specimen they are studying. Some models have coarse focus, while others have the coaxial alternative. A knob controls coarse focus on the microscope’s body by bringing the lens towards or away from the specimen. On the other hand, the coaxial focus includes both the coarse and fine focusing knobs mounted on the same axis. In most instances, the coarse knob is larger than the fine one. Some models have the fine adjustment option calibrated to allow for the recording of the different dimensions. Units with the coaxial type of focus are the best for gemologists to change the adjustments to suit their needs. It would be best if you avoid models with this information missing, like the Meiji Techno Stereo Microscope.
Microscopes require a light source to function. Manufacturers include this feature it more manageable for a gemologist to see the features of the gems they are observing without straining. Light sources vary from electric lamps to light-emitting diodes. Bright and uniform illumination is essential for the user to see the fine details of the specimen that they are observing. Most of the units in the market have halogen lamps for this purpose since they cost less and have a longer lifespan. Digital gemological microscopes utilize LED lights to provide the necessary illumination for the viewing of the specimen. Models like the AmScope SE305-PZ with both the lower and upper illumination properties deliver the best image to the user.
When you buy a microscope, the package you receive contains a manual with instructions on how to set up, use, and clean the unit. The microscope has different parts, and the cleaning method may vary depending on the material the manufacturer uses. Dust on the microscope should be blow away using top tier compressed air products that use dry nitrogen as the propellant. The mistake most people make is using compressed air products with solvents as the propellant. Using this type of product leaves a milky film on the microscope that is hard to remove. Excessive wiping is also another thing to avoid when cleaning your gemological microscope, as it will leave scratches that will affect clarity. You should always follow the cleaning instructions that the manufacturer provides to avoid damaging the microscope.
Gemological microscopes are delicate and require proper storage to ensure a long lifespan. Exposure to environmental conditions such as humidity, dust, and direct sunlight will damage the microscope. Most if not all manufacturers include a cover in the package to make it more manageable to store your microscope and protect it from dust and other contaminants. If the package you receive does not have the cover, it is best to find one compatible with your microscope to make storage a walk in the park. The place you store the microscope should dry. If the environment is humid, you should use a waterproof container with a drying agent to ensure that the area around the unit is dry. Place the microscope away from sunlight as well as when using it and during storage.
The gemological microscopes that we discussed above are among the finest in the market. They are products from reputable manufacturers with years of experience in the industry. Our editor’s choice is the Levenhuk DTX 500 LCD Digital Microscope. This unit has many sought after features that have propelled its popularity among gemologists. It comes equipped with a measuring scale and Li-on battery. It is a durable and easy to use a unit with buttons that allow the user to change the brightness, color balance, and exposure for clean images.
Our premium pick and the 2nd best gemological microscope that we evaluate is the Bresser Science ADL-601F. It is a biological microscope from one of the leading manufacturers in this business. This unit has an adjustable stage and eye relief that make work easier for the users. If you are looking for a unit that will give your money’s worth, then our best value choice, the Levenhuk 3ST Microscope 35323 Microscope, will be the best fit for you.