In the Internet Age, technology has become synonymous with all things digital. But many tools of the trade for jewelers and fine jewelry retailers can’t be accessed via laptop or tablet. Quality jewelry fabrication, appraisal, and repair are dependent upon a collection of highly specialized, staunchly reliable machinery and tools.
Of course, the state-of-the-art functionality and versatility (not to mention streamlined user experience) built into many modern machines made expressly for jewelers and retailers are every bit as innovative as an elegant piece of software offered up by an Apple or Google.
In this fast-moving retail landscape, you don’t have time for equipment that underperforms—which is why we’ve gathered some of the most impressive new machines on the market. Each has the potential to elevate your store or studio’s day-to-day operations, if only by saving you a precious five minutes (see Stuller’s quick new casting dynamo) or putting your mind at ease (check out Gemlogis’ oracle-like Taupe Diamond Segregator).
Here’s to all things amazing and analog!
Gemax High-Definition LCD Microscope from Kassoy
What’s a jeweler without a stellar microscope? As imaging technology advances, so do the capabilities of high-end jeweler microscopes. So it pays to keep tabs on innovations in the world of ’scopes. Gemax’s tiny magnifier boasts all the latest bells and whistles. It’s able to display an item’s internal features and girdle inscriptions on a 3.5-inch LCD display with zoom magnification ranging from 10 to 500 times. And the microscope makes it easy to share those great images: There’s a TV output, and a slot provided for a 4-gigabyte MicroSD card (also included) to capture razor-sharp still photos and videos. The microscope also features a rechargeable lithium battery and includes a USB and TV cable. But the tool’s biggest draw, says Kassoy product specialist Chris Cassese, is its compact size. “It was recently redesigned, so it’s small enough to put on a countertop or showcase,” he notes. In other words, the microscope packs both power and portability in spades. ($269; kassoy.com)
The Casting Machine
CS1 Digital Control Casting Machine by Stuller
Purchasing a new (or replacement) casting machine is a major investment. But the CS1 from Stuller will likely pay for itself several times over in the first few years of its mechanical life. A recent total overhaul of the machine has effectively elevated it to near-perfection, says Shawn Albert, tools product manager for Stuller, who explains that the machine “has an improved temperature reader, a new control board and melting circuit for better power regulation, and 10 memory spaces.” Another recent update: The machine’s automatic vacuum release is now automatic—“no more valve on the top of the lid,” Albert says. There’s also a new “Hi-Tech Thermo-Regulator”—which, translated, means you’re in charge of how hot your materials get. And if you’re not exactly sure what you need, this smart caster has your back. ($36,950; stuller.com)
Honeywell Voyager MS9540 from Arch Crown
Few things are as maddening as a retail scanner on the fritz—or one with ultra-low power that has to be angled just so to capture bar codes. Help is here, in the form of the sleek, ergonomic Honeywell Voyager scanner from Arch Crown—one of the most advanced single-line, handheld bar code scanners on the market. The Voyager’s laser scanning enables a “no hands” function that allows sales associates to scan items without the fuss of picking up the device. And, thanks to its quick SKU-grabbing optics, it can scan super-small and/or damaged and crumpled-up bar codes. ($200; archcrown.com)
The Diamond Segregator
Taupe Diamond Segregator from Gemlogis
As synthetic and lab-grown diamonds become more prevalent in the global marketplace, it’s crucial that jewelers have tools to correctly identify a diamond’s origins, be they in a test tube or an ancient mine. Gemlogis’ new Taupe Diamond Segregator uses shortwave ultraviolet light to ID specific diamond types. “It’s really the only tester you need to distinguish between earth-mined and HPHT/CVD-treated diamonds,” says Jacki Wojciechowski, director of sales for Gemlogis. “Traditional diamond testers will test a treated diamond as a real diamond. But as HPHT and CVD diamonds become more popular—and may be sold without proper disclosure—the Taupe is essential.” The desktop device can also be consumer facing; retailers can offer to Taupe-test previously owned diamonds to officially declare them natural, earth-mined gemstones. We smell a few “faux/real” promotions in the future. ($589; gemlogisusa.com)
Badeco MX-1 Carbon Micromotor from Otto Frei
Micromotors—for polishing, drilling, stone setting, engraving, and more—are one of those versatile tools shared with the dental industry. But this new Swiss-made Badeco micromotor from Otto Frei was specifically built for the jewelry and watch-making industries, which makes it a complete anomaly. And Badeco’s previous models went for about twice the price of this one. Not that it skimps on power and precision, says Steve Frei, a partner at Otto Frei. An alternative to flex shaft machines, micromotors are “far more precise and easy to use,” he adds, and claims that most professional bench jewelers “are thinking about or already have switched to them.” The multi-use machine boasts a fantastic new beading tool, and comes standard with a quick-change hand piece that offers serious torque (50 percent more than most micromotors). That torque is evident at all speeds—even low—to accommodate precision stone setting for drilling and forming seats in hard metals like platinum and high-karat white gold alloys. Its optional foot control, sold separately, will really put you in the driver’s seat. ($890; ottofrei.com)
Top: the Kassoy/Leica 64X Stereo Zoom microscope, which boasts, among other features, 360-degree rotation and a pinpoint LED spotlight guide ($3,395; kassoy.com)
Photograph by Tom Corbett, Styling by Antonia Sardone
Market Editor: Jennifer Heebner. Makeup by Alexis Williams for the Brooks Agency. Hair by Gusléne Bubak. Manicure by Angela Marinescu. White collared shirt by Banana Republic. Deco ring in 14k gold with black and colorless diamonds, $835, Ike ring in 14k gold with black and colorless diamonds, $682, Jennie Kwon, Los Angeles, 818-618-2039, jenniekwondesigns.com