From Gems & Gemology: Smartphone Photomicrography

We publish courtesy of Gems & Gemology GIA Insider

G&G managing editor Thomas W. Overton prepared the following entry for the journal’s Gem News International section.

Figure 1. This inexpensive microscope accessory clips over a smartphone camera lens. Illumination is provided by LEDs. Photo by Robert Weldon.

Figure 2. Taken with an Apple iPhone and the clip-on microscope in figure 1, this image shows a “lilypad” inclusion in peridot. Photomicrograph by T. Overton; field of view approximately 4.0 mm.

Smartphones such as the Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid, and Nokia N8 have become increasingly popular in recent years. Top-end models typically feature good-quality digital cameras that rival some “point-and-shoot” cameras, in addition to having basic photo editing software.
The popularity of smartphones has also spawned the development of numerous accessories that can expand their functionality even further. One such accessory is a low-power microscope that clips onto the phone over the camera lens. This contributor was interested in seeing if this device could have gemological applications.
The microscope accessory in figure 1 was ordered on the Internet for less than US$20. Its sliding housing offers varying levels of magnification, and illumination is provided by two white LEDs. The lighting assembly can be rotated about 45° to change the angle of illumination.
Although this device is clearly not optimized for gemological use, with some practice it was possible to produce serviceable photomicrographs. The images in figure 2 was taken with an Apple iPhone 4 using the ProCamera photography application, which allows manual adjustment of focus and white balance. As with any photography, the biggest challenge was the lighting. The LEDs proved too bright in most situations, and better results were achieved by partially shielding them or turning them off and relying on ambient light. Although the microscope’s packaging promised magnification up to 60x, in practice it was impossible to obtain good focus beyond medium power (approximately 20x). The best results were produced with a combination of the phone’s digital zoom, careful adjustment of the autofocus, and a steady hand.
This device clearly will not replace a standard gemological microscope or even a loupe, but it appears to provide a useful field tool in the gemologist’s arsenal.
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You can find the device here. Please note that the Gemma News Service does NOT guarantee the reliability of the dealer. We just found it on the web.

Tiffany launches iPhone app for engagement rings

The following article is published courtesy of National Jeweler Network

The Tiffany and Co. Engagement Ring Finder allows iPhone users to browse the selection and "try on" Tiffany diamond engagement rings.

New York: Tiffany and Co. is taking its engagement ring business straight to Apple iPhone users, with the introduction of a mobile phone application–or “app,” in Apple parlance–that will allow users to shop, on the go, for the retailer’s engagement rings.

The Tiffany and Co. Engagement Ring Finder, the retail jeweler’s first iPhone application, was created in response to a growing customer desire for mobile and interactive shopping, the company said in a news release issued Monday. The app offers users the tools for selecting a Tiffany diamond engagement ring, “from viewing the range of styles to learning about the superior qualities of Tiffany diamonds,” the release said.

The app includes an accurate Ring Sizer,  which Tiffany touts as being the first tool of its kind offered by a jeweler, that lets users determine their ring size by placing an actual ring directly on the screen and aligning it with the correct circle in the guide, the release said.

Browsing the collection according to shape, setting, metal or design is equally simple for users. The rings are shown true-to-size and each style may be viewed with diamonds of six different carat sizes.

Users may zoom in on a ring’s details, pair the rings with wedding bands, and save or share their favorites with friends and family via e-mail, or through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

In addition, app users can use the tool to make an appointment for a diamond consultation via phone or e-mail. The app will be available in English (in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia) and in Japanese, with prices in local currency. Prices will not appear in the Chinese version of the application or in the international English version that is available to all other countries.

Tiffany is not the only watch and jewelry brand using the iPhone as a marketing platform.

Last summer, jewelry supply giant Stuller introduced its Live Diamond Try-On application, which sends consumers to partner retailers.

To access the Tiffany and Co. engagement ring finder, visit