Many Hats of Me: New (but OLD!) Rayner Gem Refractometer

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New (but OLD!) Rayner Gem Refractometer

In my last Gemology post, I mentioned that I had returned the GIA refractometer and was planning to buy a Gempro. However, an expert from Gemologyonline.com mentioned that a circa 1950's British-made Rayner refractometer was selling on eBay for less than $200. I emailed the seller about the condition of the glass surfaces but he did not reply to any of my emails. When an eBay seller refuses to discuss an item, it usually is a warning sign and one should stay away. I thought about it for another day and decided to take the risk and purchase the refractometer. It came in the mail yesterday.










The refractometer came in its own box with a small bottle of RI liquid. I was dismayed that the seller failed to pack this box with soft material, the concern being that the trip to my house may have been rough. I removed it from the box, it was cold to the touch and very heavy; this refractometer was made of metal!






The eyepiece is much smaller than the GIA's and is focusable.





The surface of the hemicylinder has a few light scratches but still in good shape, especially considering that its age. It was also quite small, about half the size of the GIA's hemicylinder. The staining on the metal is ugly but does not affect performance. I suspect that the metal surface is steel.





The base of the refractometer had the origin of manufacture and a serial number. 





The back of the refractometer. 





I opened the bottle of RI fluid and it was extremely old, perhaps from the 1950's! It was thick and brown, but I gave it a try anyways, using a sapphire gemstone. As expected, it did not register a reading on the refractometer. As you can see, the meter is bright. 




I didn't have the means to test the reflectometer, so I asked Randy from Hight and Randal Personal Jewelers to test this refractometer. To my complete joy, we learned that the refractometer works! We tested a few stones I brought with me, and we saw correct readings with every stone except the Tsavorite. Unlike the GIA refractometer, bobbing your head up and down will not change the position of the shadow; however, with half the stones, the shadow was very faint and at times blurry. Randy explained that the faint shadow reading is also common with the GIA refractometers and I shouldn't be concerned about it. Thanks, Randy!!

Up Next: The Tucson Gem Show

I will be flying to the Tucson Gem show early tomorrow morning. I will be posting stories and photos from the show every day for the next week or so. Please visit often to see my exciting updates!








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