Setting with a Microscope

Good evening fellow Ganoksin members!

As a long time browser and occasional poster i feel like the time
has come for a bit of advice from the herd. So I’ve been a jeweller
for around 5 years now and think my skills are pretty damn competent,
of course there is always room to get better, and I dabble
occasionally in a bit of setting.

Now I don’t have much setting experience, I can hold my own with
some of the basics, but still find myself outsourcing a large
majority of work because I know I’m not nearly good enough… yet.
After perusing the pages of I came across the Meiji
microscope with the GRS acrobat stand, truly was love at first sight,
I figure If my setting can look good under magnification it will look
fantastic without. At least that’s my theory, as well as the added
advantage of less eye strain(those late nights are really getting to
me at the tender age of 22!).

So basically what I’m asking is does anyone here have any experience
with working under microscopic magnification? Be it engraving,
setting, whatever… Is there anything I should look for, avoid, is
it a waste of money? Is the Meiji brand any good?

All input is greatly appreciated!
Jonathon Luke

Hi Jonathon:

You’re liable to get a raft of responses, but the short forms are,
first, Meiji scopes are very good, and yes, you really want the
acrobat stand. It has a head-rest that lets you move the scope
(slightly) with your head, as well as giving you somewhere to brace
your head, so you don’t end up giving yourself black eyes from hours
leaning on the eyepieces.


I use the Meiji with the acrobat and couldn’t do without the scope
and stand. It will change your life.

The only thing better would be the Zeiss for much more money. The
optics for the Meiji are fine. I prefer the .03 objective lens
rather than the .05.


Jonathon, I use the Meiji set up on a daily basis and frankly could
not work with out it. I have tried all sorts of regular magnification
including Zeiss binoculars but nothing beats the Meiji. You can sit
there for 8 hours straight with little or no eye fatigue. The one we
have at work is on the old style boom stand which is OK but I have
one on the Acrobat stand at home and it is far better. The difference
in price of the boom VS Acrobat is not very much when looking at the
cost of the entire set up. The Acrobat is WELL worth the difference.
With the curent trend of having every concevable sufface of a piece
bead set or pave’d with .9mm flea eyes (when will it end??) it is a
"must have" piece of equipment. Good luck, you are going to LOVE it!!


Jonathon, After 11 years of this I feel like I’ve missed out. My
coworkers recently convinced me to try one while channel setting
small bags. I’ve started using a microscope for my settings, usually
bags, marqs, orpc. If you can also get the position vice for setting,
the smaller one.

Its hard to keep objects in focus under that much magnifaction in the
bench vice. The setting ball is a little more versitle. Thats just my
2 cents, I know that doesn’t buy much.


Hi Jonathan,

Like Brian, Kevin and Tim, I couldn’t live without my scope. I have
two, one with a video camera and the second is a regular EMZ, both on
an Acrobat arms. I can’t recommend it more highly. I use mine for
everything - setting, soldering, wax carving, engraving, etc.

I did find a bit of a learning curve to it though. For about two
weeks I really wondered whether I had made a mistake in buying it.
Because it doesn’t move around the work, you have to learn how to
move the work under it. I didn’t realize how much I moved my head
around the work until I couldn’t do it anymore. Once I got used to
using it and discovered the value of the video camera in customer
service, repair sales and as a teaching tool, I found it to be an
incredibly useful addition to my shop. You are right in your
assumption that if it looks good under the scope, it’ll look great to
the unaided eye. The reverse is true also, if it looks marginal to
the eye, it’ll look horrible under the scope. Like I said, it’s a
great repair sales tool with the video. The only caveat is that if
you show it a take-in, you better be able to show it at pick-up.
Pitted solder joints look like craters.

The Zeiss optics are better, but it is a far more costly scope. The
Meiji is a great value and the Acrobat arm is worth every dime. Make
sure you get the rubber eye cups (don’t let anyone near them if they
have a charcoal block in their hands), headrest, ring light and
objective lens of your choice. The objective lens determines your
working distance. The sales rep where you buy it should be able to
explain the different lenses and working distances. I know the folks
at GRS can at any rate. (No affiliation, GRS is just a good company)

You will love your scope. It will make your work that much better.

Dave Phelps


Have been using one now for eight years setting and carving wax and
wish I had one 20 years ago. One vote for getting one for yourself
now. You will be amazed at the quality and precision you will be able
to produce.


Thanks to everyone for your replies (Esp. Lawrence from Sabushka
design, guy’s a champ!), I’ve taken all your input into deep thought,
I think I’m going to go with the Meiji and Acrobat combo as I
initially thought, the Zeiss may just be a bit pricey for me. The LED
light source seems to be the better option, and one of those GRS
engraving balls seem to be all the rage, I was thinking of getting
the Microblock Ball, seems like a good size for me. Once again I
appreciate all your advice, I think I’m going to place the order
sometime in the next few days, as a present to myself for finishing
gemmology, so keep all the advice coming!

Jonathon Luke

In regards to working with a scope, we are wanting to have video
capabilities for teaching purpose and was wondering if any of you
that are currently using a video system would share the specifics of
your set up. We are using a Meiji EMZ 5 and are trying to sort out
wether it is better to go with a EMZ 8 trinocular scope with the
camera mounted to the scope or to get a seperate video camera and
continue to us the EMZ 5. The question of analog VS digital has also
come so any input regarding that subject would be welcome. Thanks in
advance for any Tim

Hello Jonathon!

I have an “Acrobat Stand” in combination with a "Zeiss Stemi 2000"
and the LED-ring-light since January 2009. It was an epiphany! The
work under the scope is just delightful. I can work eight, nine hours
without any eyestrain. The LED is neat - i can work in the dark now -
without any other lights on in the studio.

I am sure the “Meiji” is good, too. A lot of engravers and stone
setters use it. May i give you an advice? If it’s possible get a
bigger vise like the “Low Profile Vise” - in combination with an
turntable. With this tools you have boundless possibilities! You
will love it.


I don’t know if this is an appropriate comment to make, but I feel
that the GRS ring lights are rather overpriced. When I got my
microscope, a Meiji, which I love, I just ordered a light source from
one of the many Chinese knockoff online microscope stores. GRS makes
fantastic tools, the Acrobat stand for example, and as for actual
optics you’d want the best you can afford, but I can’t imagine paying
nigh on two hundred dollars for a glorified flashlight.

That being said, when considering light sources, I heard a number of
engravers say that they didn’t like LED lights because each bulb
would cast its own glare. On a polished plate, I’m told the effect
could be quite dazzling. I opted for a florescent ring, but I would
be very interested to see if any Orchid members have noticed that
sort of problem when doing jewelery work. When I was looking around,
the LED’s dimmer switch and directional lighting seemed like pretty
attractive features.

Willis Hance

Steve Lindsay also sells engraving balls You
might think twice about the ‘microblock’. They’re cute but…what do
you plan to do with it?


I use an EMZ-5 with a separate camera mounted on the stand.
Advantage: you are still able to use the padded head rest.
Disadvantage: the camera is taking an angled view of the work which
sometimes limits the view. With the EMZ-8 you get a straight on view
of the work, but you can’t use the padded head rest with this set
up. Personal choice. I went with the the head rest as I spend so many
hours working on the scope.

Dave Mereski

Hey Tim,

I would definitely recommend the 8TR over the original split image
version, I don’t think they even make that scope anymore though. The
original video scope dedicated the left monocular for the camera and
split the right image into two eyepieces. Hence, no depth perception.
The 8TR splits the left image between the camera and the eyepiece, so
the view through the scope is a little darker than the plain EMZ,
especially when zoomed in tight, but you have full depth perception
and the slightly darker image is a relatively small price to pay in
exchange for the video capability. Another little detail, the
boundaries of the video image are a lot smaller than the field of
view in the scope, maybe half to two thirds. It takes a little
conscious discipline to keep the work centered when using the video.

I would have gone digital if the technology had been there. I think
it might be a great option to use a separate camera mounted on the
side of the scope. Best of both worlds, seems to me. Haven’t tried
that but it looks really good.

Dave Phelps

Hi all:

Just FYI, it is possible to frankenform an Acrobat stand so that you
can use the headrest with a Trinocular scope. It takes some fussing,
and the making of a few extra parts, but it is possible. (both of my
scopes are trinocs, so I’ve had to do it twice.) If you can make a
choice, you want a trinoc with the camera port coming off the top
either to the right or left of centerline. (as the Meiji’s and
Meiji- clones do) rather than straight up the centerline like some
Nikon’s do. It’s a whole lot easier to get around an offset camera
port, rather than one that’s right up the middle. That gets

Do I sense that I should write up another “how to” on this?


Hi all:

I’ve got both: a florescent ring and an LED ringlight. (two scopes)

I don’t use the LED as often, but that has much to do with the fact
that I tend to use that scope for my PUK welder, so I can’t mount it
when the PUK’s shutter is mounted. What I can tell you is that when I
have used it, I’ve turned it all the way up and left it. I was going
to say that I rarely use it turned down, but I can’t think of a
single time I’ve actually used it down, for more than an experiment
to see what the effect was. I never noticed individual speculars from
the LED’s but it’s possible, I suppose.

I bought it for a couple of different reasons, and it’s worked out
for the non-jewelry uses I intended for it. Is it worth the extra $$
as a work-light for a scope? Dunno. I’d tend to think not, but then
again, I’m chea… Frugal. That’s it, I’m frugal. I have no
complaints at all about the florescent. It lights, It’s cool, and
I’ve never had any occasion to pay attention to it beyond that.


With the EMZ-8 you get a straight on view of the work, but you
can't use the padded head rest with this set up. 

Au contraire! You can use a head rest with the 8TR. You just have
to make the mounting rod yourself. Why GRS hasn’t done this is beyond
me. The original headrest bracket that mounts on the EMZ 5 works just
fine (I think that piece comes with the Acrobat arm), you just need 2
screws to fasten the headrest bracket through the spacer on the
bottom of the scope ring mount where it attaches to the
ball-and-socket, and a longer rod bent to clear the camera.

Parts list:

2 pcs 4" by #10 pan head or allen head screws (I’m pretty sure
they’re #10s, take a short one or the ring mount with you)

1 pc 3/8 inch by 9 inch aluminum rod

1 pc 3/8 inch thin wall brass tubing by 2 inches

I cut a slot in one end of the rod and cross drilled it for the
mounting lug on the headrest itself to go into, bent it in the
middle about 20 - 30 degrees and slipped the piece of 3/8 ID brass
tubing on the other end to make a spacer that then fits in the
headrest mount just like on the EMZ 5. It would have been a tiny bit
easier to use the right diameter rod, but it’s an oddball size (0.410
inch or something) and I didn’t feel like trying to find it; the
brass tubing I had fit both the rod and the mount. Anybody
interested, e-mail me off line and I’ll be glad to send a couple

Dave Phelps

Steve Lindsay also sells engraving balls You
might think twice about the 'microblock'. They're cute but....what
do you plan to do with it? 

I would second that Steve Lindsay is a great source of very
outstanding too ls and and I have found Kevin P Kelly to
be someone on Orchid to listen to as well. But I need to stick up
for the lowly ‘microblock’.

I just love that little thing. I have a Meiji scope and Acrobat stand
on my bench and switch back and forth from scope to no scope all day
long, depending on what I’m doing. I have the GRS benchmate with the
quick release do-dad attached to my bench. If I’m going from no scope
soldering to scope setting I put the GRS block shelf on the bench and
can easily put the microblock on it, usually I just pick up the shelf
and the microblock at the same time. the block fits right in my hand
and I can easily move it into the field of view of the scope as I
move the piece around in the block. The only way I’d use the large
standard sized block would be if I had a designated spot with a scope
where it always sat. The way I work I really would’nt want to pick
that big pig up and move it several times a day, the microblock works
much better for me. We do have a big engraving block in the shop but
everyone uses the microblocks. Nothing wrong with the big one, it’s
tried and true, just wanted to stick up the the little guy.


Mark, I stand corrected. I assumed that the person was talking about
a dedicated engraving station. My response reveals my underlining