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Pronounced loop, a jeweller’s loupe is a simple, small, magnifier. It is used by professionals to inspect diamonds and other gemstones. Loupes allow the user to focus on objects at much closer distance than is usually possible, thanks to their special lens. This lens makes the object appear much larger, thus revealing tiny details that wouldn’t be visible to the naked eye. Loupes are important because they allow jewellers- and customers- to properly inspect pieces for quality and security. A jeweller without a loupe is like a photographer without a camera!
Most jewellers favour a 10X triplet magnifying loupe. This is the perfect choice for viewing jewellery, especially gemstones. Professionals who grade diamonds use this style of loupe to do so. So, whilst anything viewed through a more powerful loupe is interesting, it isn’t included on official grading reports. Loupes with black framing can also be a handy, but not necessary, choice. This is because the black eliminates reflections that can alter perception of the object you are viewing.
You can spot a whole variety of jewellery characteristics when looking through a loupe. These include:
Although these features may make you feel as though you are looking for flaws, this is not the case. In The Connoisseur's Guide to Precious Gemstones, R. Wise wrote that ‘rather than regarding inclusions in coloured stones as harmful, in small sizes and numbers that do not in any way detract from their beauty, they should be regarded as adding to desirability, for they provide identifying characteristics.’
When looking for your own loupe, there a few new terms that you may encounter. The three important phrases are:
If you’re looking to invest in antique or vintage jewellery, then it’s helpful to know how to use a jeweller’s loupe. Hopefully this handy 5 step guide will help you inspect with confidence on your next trip to the jewellers.