In the Loupe: All about Jewelry Loupes
by Leslie, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

What IS a loupe?

Used in the geological and jewelry industries, loupes allow you to closely examine gemological properties, jewelry and more.

Lens Types

The most common lenses you’ll come across are:
  • Singlet - an inexpensive (fairly large) single lens just used for magnification.
  • Doublet - these have two lenses typically glued together. Doublets both magnify and improve clarity of the image. As the number of lenses increases, the diameter decreases, meaning doublets are typically smaller than singlets.
  • Triplet - with three lenses, a triplet is typically more expensive, but further improves clarity and color corrects for a highly accurate image. As the number of lenses increases, the diameter decreases, meaning triplets are typically smaller than doublets.

Item Number H20-1610TL

Item Number H20-3235TL


Item Number H20-1609TL

Aside from the lens type, the magnification amount is an important aspect of loupes. Indicating how many times the object is magnified, 10X being the standard magnification. Higher magnifications increase by 10. There are varying levels of distortion around the edges of loupe lenses affecting how large the field of view is. As the magnification power grows, the field of view decreases. This isn’t a bad thing, since you’re getting a more detailed view, it simply means you’ll need to focus on the center of the lens and move the object around a little more to be able to view the whole item.

Along with the field of vision, the focal range also decreases as magnification power increases. The focal range indicates how far away an object needs to be held from the loupe to be in focus. Start with the object you’re examining about an inch from the loupe and bring the item in (very) slowly to find the focal range.

There is a common misconception that more lenses (triplets and higher) automatically have higher magnification power. This isn’t true. You can find 10X singlets, doublets or triplets (like item number 1609TL). Magnification power is separate from the lens type denoting image clarity.

How to Hold a Loupe

Figuring out where to hold your loupe and object is a bit of trial and error. It is recommended to hold the loupe about an inch from your eye. Since loupes are not just magnifying glasses, you’ll want to move the object rather than the loupe and bring the examined object in to focus. Brace your hands or arms to improve stability and therefore image clarity. The less extra movement, the easier it will be to use your loupe. Try resting your thumb knuckle against your cheekbone or the corner of your eyeglasses for the hand holding the loupe. The arm holding your object should be supported by a table or other stable surface.

Other Loupe Tips

  • Keep both eyes open. This will actually help reduce eye strain.
  • Most quality loupes fold in on themselves and/or have a case. Close and store loupes properly after every use to ensure your loupe stays in pristine condition. You don’t want dust particles, scratches and more compromising your view.
  • There are other types of loupes including fancy styles with diffusers (used to cut down on glare) or those with built in LED lights so you have the best light right where you’re looking. These are especially handy when examining diamonds and other surfaces that refract light.
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Item Number H20-4709TL

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