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Optics for stone setting


In all of my many books on the subject of jewelry making there is
not much discussion on the subject of the correct optics for stone
setting. I understand that one’s work greatly improves with the
correct optics so this has made me curious. I have just started out
setting gems. I have been doing mostly flush mounting of 2mm-5mm
stones. I have an optivisor with a #5 lens (2.5x with focal length of
8") and the 2.5x optiloupe.

Seems like I have to bend and tilt my head so close to the work with
this setup. Feels a bit awkward. Does anyone have any suggestions to
what type of optics I could/should be using for stone setting?

Chris Young


I use a #10 Optivisor. I use a #5 for general all-around work but it
does not get close enough, for me, for stone setting. I have the
optiloupe but rarely use it. It just occurred to me the other day
why perhaps I don’t use it. It is mounted for my right eye. I am
going to move it to my left eye and see if I use it more.

My bench pin (I have a Bench-mate setup I use for most of my setting)
is mounted JUST below my shoulders and I don’t find myself with a
kink in my neck.

I am soon to get a “scope”. I also engrave AND have reached “that
age” where I need bifocals. Scope first and THEN I’ll see if I need
to adjust my prescription.

Dear Chris,

I have been wearing Optivisors for many many years. When I stone set
a #5 is a good lens strength to use. It is right in the middle of
lenses they make for the unit. I also have prescription glasses that
help me read and do close up work not jewelry related. I further
inspect my work with a 10 power loupe.

If I am doing small stone such as.01 point diamonds I go to the
strongest lens #10. You might need a little stronger lens if you are

When I teach diamond setting, the first consideration is weather you
need glasses for this type work. If you can’t see what you are doing
without glasses, have your eyes checked first by a doctor.

I also use the Optivisor for general bench work. I use a #4 for all
jewelry as well as polishing.

Here are my ergonomics for magnification. It starts at the bench. I
sit and work in front of my bench with the table top at about
shoulder height. The jeweler’s bench drawer allows me to rest my
elbows on it for comfort. You need to be able to work comfortably all
day at the bench. The bench pin is right in from of my face. I set
mostly with a ring clamp to hold my jewelry. Many setters use either
a Graver’s Ball or a Benchmate. Either needs the same distance

Start by measuring from your nose to your work. The Optivisor is
basically sold by distance. A #5 is about 8 inches to clarity. They
used to have a chart showing the lens number and distance to your
work. See if you can find one of these charts. You should be
comfortable seeing what you are doing.

I also have found used ones that I have replace parts on. The news
ones are quite round and take a bit of time to break in. My head is
not round but a bit of an oval when it comes to fitting the
Optivisor. I have hat hair all day, but who cares?

My two cents…

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson
Southeast Technical College

Personally, I love my optivisor. On the other hand, I use it for gem
cutting rather than setting, so the shoulder/neck mechanics are
quite a bit different. For small but not tiny electronics assembly
(similar to setting 2mm and up stones, I would think) I have a 10x
lighted magnifier that lets me sit or stand comfortably and still see
what I am doing. Just search for “magnifier lamp” to find thousands
of examples.