To See or Not to See, That is the Question.
There comes a time when your eyes just aren’t strong enough to see what is going on. There are plenty of “vision helpers” on the market and can be confusing as to which ones work, when to use them, and how to decide which ones to buy. There are different products and different uses for them, so today I will try to explain some of the options and help to clear up the many choices.
Even if you have the greatest vision, working with small parts and details can be challenging and sometimes down right impossible. For working at the bench on everyday projects many jewelers use what are called an OptiVISOR®. This is my choice of magnification.
These fit on your head like a hat and give you the convenience of having easy magnification close and quick, just flip the visor down and you can see clearly. There are quite a few options as far as which lens to buy so do a little research and measuring before you purchase. An easy way to find out which OptiVISOR to purchase is to measure the comfortable distance from your eyes to where you work with your hands. For me, I like to get up close to my pieces 6-8 inches. If you like to keep further away or closer, there is a lens for you. From a 20 inch focal point to a 4 inch focal point. Also if you need to see even closer, there is what is called an OptiLOUPE™ which will give you 2.5X times the magnification.
For best results, choose the lens the with the lowest power necessary to accomplish your task. This is because the greater the magnification you use, the shorter your focal length will be and the smaller your field of view will be. Choosing the minimal magnification ensures the best possible field of view and focal length as you work.
Check out this video from Rio Grande that explains a little more.—> Video
Another option is something I talked about in a recent blogpost and on the JewelryMonk Podcast 005 is the Bifocal Safety Glasses. These work good, protect your eyes, and have magnification. Actually they are like reading glasses but cooler. I recommend these for everyday wear.
If you just need magnification every once in a while, there is an Eyeglass Clip on loupe that is convenient and easy. there are usually 2 loupes and you can either use one or both, depending on the power you need.
Another option is the light weight Eyeglass Clip that you wear just like eye glasses. These are a little bit cheaper, less quality, but some do come with a LED light to see better. They also won’t leave you with “Hat-Hair”. I wear a hat most days anyway, so this is not an issue for me.
The Jewelers Loupe is another option for getting a clear view of your jewelry up close. These are usually used for seeing something very close, like stones or very fine detail. It is good to have one of these at your bench, because there will come a time when they come in handy. Loupes are generally listed by the strength of magnification or power first, for example 10x 15x 20x 30x etc. The next number in the description is the size or diameter of the lens like12mm, 14mm, 18mm, 20.5mm or 21mm etc. The larger the number, the more light can get through and easier to see.
The types of loupes are generally referred to as “Doublets”, “Triplets”, and refers to the number of lenses built into the loupe assembly, A Doublet lens is constructed of a single piece of glass, with lenses ground on both ends of the glass. A Triplet lens is constructed of three separate pieces of glass, mounted into one loupe assembly.
All loupes have a focal range, from about 1/8” to 1&1/4”. which indicates how far away from the object your lens will focus. This range generally decreases as the power of the loupe increases. If you are looking through the loupe and the object your inspecting is upside down, just move the loupe closer to the object.
Expected focal ranges are from 1/8 of a inch to about 1&1/4 inches from the object your inspecting. A good average range is 3/8 inch or greater. The strong 20x or 30x loupes with a shorter focal range are harder to use and may block a lot of the light needed to see the object.
or the common 10X Eye Loupe:
Another more expensive option are Telescope Lens Glasses. These will give you a clearer, larger view at a further distance. They help your posture because you don’t have to lean over your work as much, and still give you great magnification.
And the last (but not least) option for you hard-core got-to-see-every-detail jewelers is the Bench Microscope
. I have never purchased one of these, but it is on my “wish list”. You will be able to see any detail, probably more than you want, and never be left wanting. Definitely a cadillac of magnifiers.
There you have it, a rundown of some of the options when it comes to magnification, but defiantly not all the options available.
I hope this helps narrow the choice when it comes to picking out the right tool when it comes to seeing more clearly.
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Now, let’s “see” what you can do now.
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