Assuming that the polarizers are crossed to produce a dark field, the polariscope is then described as a circular dark-field polariscope. the polariscope is changing from a dark-field configuration to a light-field configuration. Photoelasticity is a nondestructive, whole-field, . the polariscope must be arranged so as to allow light .. izer always looks dark because half the light striking. A polariscope uses polarized light for gem identification. is at right angles to the vibrational direction of the analyzer, the field between them remains dark. Throughout a ° rotation the stone blinks 4 times, light and dark.

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This is caused by the magenta color of the full wave plate under crossed polars the color in natural daylight is transparent white. It is vital that you insert the wedge in this direction and at that angle or you will not get the results illustrated in the next two images.

Determining the optic sign in anisotropic gemstones should pose few problems with the aid of one of the retardation plates. Ib will create an addition in color on the Newton Color Scale. For righthanded people this setup is probably best as one needs fleld steady hand to hover the quartz wedge.

With the quarter wave inserted the Airy Spirals spiral to the right. Remember that uniaxial minerals have one optic axis while biaxial gemstones have two optical axes. One must now pay good attention to how the isochromes the colored rings behave.

No knowledge of “2V” or “numerical aperture” is needed for our discussion. Quartz is a special case in conoscopy as it is an enantiomorphic mineral.

It consists of two polarized filters, one on the top and one on the bottom of the instrument as seen in the picture to the right. Luckely one can now buy inexpensive around USD The above typical images may not be seen as a whole or very sharply at times, but don’t be alarmed. Hughes also suggested, through personal communication, the use of lighr small droplet of honey which works very well.


The same fracture in a pink sapphire between crossed polars. Quadrants 1 and 3 show a yellow-orange color, while quadrants 2 and 4 turn blue.

The first 3 behaviors should pose no problems for the inexperienced user, but the latter ADR can be misinterpreted and cause one to think the stone is double refractive. At other times, the isogyre is a very fuzzy hyperbole which gives the same troubles.

As discussed previously with the full wave plate, the conoscopic image of this uniaxial stone is divided into 4 imaginary quadrants. Quadrants 1 and 3 turn more or less blue here addition of color occurredwhile in quadrants 2 and 4 the colors change to predominantly yellow-orange here subtraction occurred.

The conoscope creates a 2-dimensional image of the 3-dimensional interference in a mineral. Typical uniaxial image Typical uniaxial image of quartz bull’s eye Typical biaxial image. Pay attention only to the reaction of the forward motion. Because there may be more than one direction in which some gemstones remain dark, it is useful as a confirmation to view the stone under a different angle when it stays dark.

For clarity the nomenclature of interference figures should be understood.

These colors will change when a full wave plate is inserted. When, for instance, a gemstone would create a retardation of nm, the starting spectrum would be on the boundary of the first order and second order and go from magenta to blue to blue-green to yellow to red.

The distance between the two melatopes is dependent on the “2V” value of the mineral. Because anisotropic minerals appear to be single refractive when viewed down the optic axis, another technique for finding the optic axis can be used. Retrieved from ” http: The polarizing filters of this instrument are made of polarizing plastic sheets polyvinyl alcohol containing dichroic molecules – stretched kight.

Plastic simulators are available and even cellophane the florist wraps flowers in can act as a quarter wave plate. That area daek divided into 4 quadrants. The length of the roll is the fast ray, the cutting edge is the direction of the slow ray.


Photos courtesy of John Huff, gemcollections.

Many polariscopes for gemological purposes polarisscope with a rather large conoscope that can be swivelled like a gemstone holder. If the stone becomes noticeably lighter, it means the gemstone is single refractive and is exhibiting ADR.

Polariscope – The Gemology Project

It should be noted that this image is an ideal one two isogyres seenwhich is rarely the case. With the polarizer and analyzer in crossed position, turn on the light source and place the gemstone on the rotating platform just above the polarizer this platform might not always be present, in which case you use your tweezers.

With the aid of a few polarizing sheets one can turn the gemological microscope into a polarizing microscope for less than USD Older models were created with microscopically oriented crystals of iodoquinine sulfate herapathite or tourmaline plates. The wedge is not used as such mostly in gemology, instead it is used to hover over an interference pattern and to determine optic sign by observing the movement of the isochromes.


One can determine optic character from part of the conoscopic image. Place the stone is a shallow dish of water or baby oil and rotate the stone slowly in it. Both the polarizer and the analyzer have their own vibrational planes. When you do, rotate it to maximum curvature as seen in the images below. All images below are conoscopic images with the dzrk in place.

When the slow ray leaves the gem, the fast ray would have already traveled an extra distance outside the gemstone.