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Stone setting using a microscope


My aging eyes are having difficulty with stone setting jobs,
especially involving small diamonds. Over time, I’ve progressed from
using an Optivisor with a No.4 lens to one with a No.7 lens. As far
as I know, the No.7 is the strongest lens available and is no longer
adequate to see the small details clearly. I’ve heard that some
stone-setters are using microscopes for setting and bright cutting
and I would welcome any input or comments regarding this topic.

Thank you,
Don Kenney

I plan to check out the laser operations for my eyes before they get
too bad. Back to my favourite hospital in Mexico!


Hi Don,

I’ve been an engraver for the past 18 years, and I have to say that
I’ve been using a MEIJI EMZ microscope for all that time. You could
have been farther along with your setting abilities but now is the
best time to move into the realm of using a microscope for everything
you do. It takes getting use to, but you’ll never go back to guessing
as to where to raise beads, or cleaning up your bright cuts. If the
job looks good under the scope, then when someone looks at your work
with they’re naked eye it will look just great!!! I’d venture to say
that at least 40% of great jewelers use scopes and there’s no way to
say that this is cheating, It’s just a pleasure to do work where your
focusing on a point the size of a quarter and being able to go down
to a dime size area and set as many as thirty stones without losing
your place. Go to the GRS web site and see the scopes they sell and
from there you can look for one that will fit your needs nicely.


I use a #7 regularly (they make a #10 too) But if you can afford it,
get a microscope! Even if your eyes are young, a microscope (and the
rest of the goodies offered by GRS
will make you smile. You’ll wonder how you got along without one.
The mistake I made was not buying a microscope with a video camera
attachment. Don’t make that same mistake!

Why do you need the video camera?


As many others will, I would encourage you to consider a Meiji scope
with an acrobat stand. I also would suggest the GRS engraving ball
shelf and the micro engraving ball. The reason is that when working
with the scope your field of view is smaller, if using a bench-mate,
when you move the piece you have to move the scope. The smaller
engraving ball on the shelf helps reduce the need to adjust the
scope. You can just slide the ball into the field of view on the
shelf. When finished the shelf and ball are easy to remove, just
lift and set aside, replace your bench pin then push your scope out
of the way on it’s articulating stand.

It will take several months to become accustomed to using the scope,
it’s weird at first, but I wouldn’t want to work without it.

The mistake I made was not buying a microscope with a video camera
attachment. Don't make that same mistake! 

I can see using the video to record, or to demonstrate to customers
and others. But if you’re just using the scope yourself for setting
and other work, why would you want or need the video? would you be
working while watching the screen instead of the clearer image
actually seen through the scope? I’ve never felt any particular
desire to add that much additional cost to my scope. What am I


Hello Don,

Do it. Get one today. The microscope will make a huge difference and
I find myself relying it for other things… like finding that
invisible splinter in your finger or identifying a small insect!
Great for checking the sharpness of a cup burr or complete fusing of
a joint. Put your eyes on one and become a believer!

Judy in Kansas, where a few more turtles are appearing. I think the
little darlin’s were blasted by the heat and went underground until
things cooled off.

Hi Don,

I’ll probably be one of a chorus here, but yes, absolutely get
yourself a microscope.

I’ve got a couple: one of Otto Frei’s Meiji clones, which works
great, and a Nikon that blows it out of the water, but would have
cost half my car if I hadn’t picked it up at an estate sale.

You’ll be stunned at what you can see when you can dial in to 50x. I
normally work at a little less than 8x, but having a zoom is really,
really useful.

The one thing you must do, is get one of the GRS acrobat stands.
They let you put the scope anywhere, and they’ve got a headrest which
lets you brace yourself so your neck doesn’t get tired, and you don’t
give yourself a black eye from the eyepieces. The headrest also lets
you move the scope around a little bit as you’re working, in case you
need to slide over to one side or the other a bit.

If I were in your shoes, I’d call around to the local repair shops,
and see if anybody’s got a scope, and if they’d be willing to let
you take a look through it for a couple of minutes. If you explain
why you’re interested, I can’t imagine it’d be a problem.


PS–> Everybody else is going to say this too, but it’s true: if
something looks half-way decent under 20x, it’ll look utterly
perfect bare eyed.

PPS–> get a ringlight as well. Most useful little creatures.

Why do you need the video camera? 

There have been a few times I wanted to show a customer how a stone
was set. (I’m a to-the-trade bench jeweler and all my customers are
jewelry store owners. Very few are actual jewelers.)

I can see using the video to record, or to demonstrate to
customers and others. 


But if you're just using the scope yourself for setting and other
work, why would you want or need the video? 

I would also want a record.


I can see that someone has already mentioned that there is a #10
lens available for the optivisor. That is what I have worked with for
most of my 20+ years.

Just recently I purchases A Meiji TR-8 (The scope that also has the
camera mount) and the Acrobat stand for it. The difference in price
was negligible for the microscope head but don’t forget to add around
$300 to $500 for the adapter and lens to enable you to mount either a
camcorder or a camera. I have mine paired with a Sony Handycam. I
ordered the adapter from a different microscope company.

My advice would be to get one. You WILL have to get plenty of “seat
time” using it if you have always worked wirh an optivisor. That is
the world I came from and using the scope definitely takes some
getting used to.

I’ll try to get some pics and videos posted and supply a link to
them as I go through this process. I have heard of no classes near me
for using a scope. I have a couple pics on Facebook showing the
beginnings of setting up a bench for it as well as just one pice
looking through the viewfinder of the camcorder. and

Keith Hible

When I ran my own store my partner had a video camera system for
displaying gemstones magnified on a TV screen. I often found it
extremely useful for explaining jewelery problems to a customer. Blow
that piece of jewelery up on the screen, and any issues can be easy
to demonstrate.

When I purchased my Meiji microscope I did not include the camera,
and of ten wish I had. I did pay to add the camera to the laser
system when it came time to buy that, and customers love to sit on
the sales floor and watch the big screen as metal melts and blends
before their eyes.

That camera, combined with magnification can be an effective sales
tool, as well as a teaching aid.

I made the mistake of sitting down at a work station with a Meiji at
the Buffalo, NY Bench Jewelers Conference a few years back, just to
get a feel for it. The jeweler Joel McFadden sat down with me and
showed me some tricks, and I was blown away by how much detail these
aging eyes could see under the scope, and how quickly I adjusted to
working that way.

Today that microscope, on an Acrobat stand is one of my most
important tools for setting jobs, allowing me to see exactly what is
occurring at the point where metal meets stone, or cutting edge
meets metal. The microscope made a huge difference in the quality of
work I can produce.

Another option may be a more versatile camera. I would like to direct
you to

I have been using an older version(steam powered) of these cameras as
a teaching and demonstration tool for some years. The new versions
simply plug into a USB port on a computer. (Mac, Windows & Linux.)
They focus from 1/4" to infinity. In close the image is less then
half the size of my little finger nail. Say a 1/4" square.That gives
you a full screen High Definition image. You can also blow up a
bigger area then a microscope can view. You can see it on the
computer screen or output to S Video on a larger monitor. With the
goose neck it is very versatile and can essentially look at anything.
The image can be rotated so the view is always right side up. There
is a microscope eyepeice adapter too. In a classroom situation it
gives everybody the best view of a demonstration. Record it as you go
and they have it as a reference.

No connection to the company, just like the product. In the process
of ordering two right now.

Reactive Metals Studio, Inc

I have been using an older version (steam powered) of these
cameras as a teaching and demonstration tool for some years. 

Bill, which of the cameras were you referring to??

I have been using the microscope for over 20 years for doing my
jewelry work… it has made the difference between me and my
competition many of times… When I set a stone it is set correctly
and will not catch on clothing or come out. The detail in my carving
is beyond compare with anyone else in my area. I can take a piece and
blow it up for the customer and they can see the detail which has
allowed me to raise my prices for my work above everyone else around
me. It is a good investment. And when you get old like my you still
can see:-)

Vernon Wilson

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