Optivisor or other magnification:
It’s extremely important to be able to see very small details when making jewelry.
If you can’t see small details like the seam of a jump ring, or how smooth the end of a fine wire is, then you’ll need to set yourself up with good magnification. Many jeweler’s opt for a device like the optivisor shown in this image, because it flips up and there are many different magnification strengths available for the lenses.
What’s important is that you can see your work well. Even if a pair of ‘cheater’ glasses is what does the trick for you.
Even if you think that you have decent vision, chances are good that you will need some magnification to see the detail required to create well-crafted jewelry…
Optivisors are just a headband with a magnifying lens that can flip up or down as needed. They are the “go-to” version of magnification for many jewelers because they are easy to use, travel with you around the worktable, can be worn over regular glasses, and you can change out the lenses for various strengths. That being said, you can achieve the magnification that you need with a wide array of options, from table-top magnifiers to cheater glasses. The goal is that you can clearly see the detail you need to see while your hands are still available to work.
What do you need to be able to see?
When you are working with jump rings, you need to be able to see the seam of the rings very clearly so that you can close them without any gaps.
When you are working with wire or sheet, you need to be able to measure very accurately and also be able to see the ends and edges clearly to file them appropriately.
When you are soldering, you need to be able to see even the tiniest imperfection in a join up close as well as having a clear view of the solder while yielding the torch. So in this case, you may have 2 different levels of magnification: one for close viewing, and another for about 18-24″ away.
How do you choose the right level of magnification?
Everyone’s eyesight is different. So you have to try out various options to figure out what works for you. I recommend that you think about where (or in what position) you are comfortable working for each task and take note of the distance you are holding the work as it relates to your eyes. Then when you go to the store shopping for magnification, you can hold a detailed object (like something with very small print) at that distance, to determine which lens works best.
When using magnification to see something up close, it’s a good idea to remove the magnification before looking up from that object. Many people get dizzy or nauseous if they look across the room through magnified lenses.
Where to purchase…
Optivisors and other similar options can be found at jewelry supply stores. I highly recommend you purchase these in person unless they come with various lenses you can switch out. What to buy for magnification is a very personal decision. Some find one style more comfortable than another, or one may be more cumbersome, so it’s hard to specify where to purchase.
Be sure to read the section above about how to select the right magnification. You’ll want to test and measure the distance while at your work station before shopping.