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How to see a gem:
Discover eternal beauty!

The Lens

To open the deeper beauty of a gem one needs a 10x triplet lens, which is also the basic tool used to grade gemstones.

This little instrument reveals dimensions of color, depth and crystal in a stone. Inclusions become beautifully shaped feathers or turn into a colorful  butterfly. Colors that you hardly perceived at first become clearly distinguishable. The amazing precision of each facet and each edge shows you the quality of the cutter.

You will have to hold the lens right before one eye and bring the stone towards the lens (use a tweezer for smaller stones) until it becomes clear. Zoom the stone slowly in and out until you have the right position.

RULE: Move the gem not the lens!

You will know that you do have the right position when the stone suddenly jumps up clear and its beauty is like a glimpse into space.

Hold it there...   Now you see!


The Light

Obviously the sun is the most natural of all light sources, but most stones are worn indoors and under artificial light than while sunbathing. Therefore it is important to see a stone both in daylight and in artificial light.

For tungsten light you should choose a strong, but realistic beam. Any stone will shine under the spotlights of an Academy Award ceremony (but you'll also need 2.5 kilo of make-up to look halfway human). For most of us, though, that's not a day-to-day situation. 

A torch or a strong ceiling light should be enough to get a good stone to sparkle. The strong halogen spotlights used by some jewelers to sell their stones are stunning but will lead to disappointments once you take the stone home, so try to see the stone in realistic surroundings.

Unless you actually plan to wear your stones on the beach you don't need to wait for a sunny day. It will be sufficient to examine the gem at noon next to a bright untinted window.

For cat's eyes and stars you will have to make sure that only one light source rests on the stone or the effect will blur.

If you choose a stone to be set in jewelry you will have to consider the setting and the light effects it will have. Will the back be closed or will light pass through? When and where will you wear it?

A stone in an open pendant at day is different from a ring with a closed setting at night. For the first a strong-colored garnet will be fitting, but for the latter a light-colored sapphire will do much better. If you are not sure about your choices, please ask us.

Inclusions in Sandawana Emerald



Inclusions are part of any natural stone. Generally speaking one might say that no stone is absolutely free of inclusions, except synthetics.

Read here how to judge the clarity of a gemstone.

Some gems like zircons or spinels tend to be free of visible inclusions and are generally much clearer than, for example sapphires, while others like stars and cat eyes are "made" by their inclusions.

Inclusions are a positive proof of a stones' genuineness and its natural origin. Feathers and crystals give a stone a very unique appearance and can be stunning when seen under a lens.

Silk is the most obvious feature of natural, untreated sapphire. Especially Ceylon sapphires are famous for their silk which should be visible but not 'cloudy'.

Edward Bristol

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