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UT News

World-class gem and mineral collection goes digital

An extraordinary collection of gems and minerals is now a click of the mouse away after students at the Jackson School of Geosciences digitally photographed more than 6,300 specimens and made them available on a new, fully searchable Web site.

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If you’re lucky enough to get a gemstone ring or necklace this holiday season, stop a moment to think about where it came from. It probably started out as a rough, unattractive lump of a rock. Someone had to cut it into a shape that transformed it into a luminous thing of beauty.

Gem faceting was once a secretive trade, but thanks to decades of teaching and writing by Glenn and Martha Vargas, it is now a hobby enjoyed by millions. The couple donated their personal collection of 6,300 gems and minerals to the university. And now, thanks to students in the Jackson School of Geosciences, you can virtually wander through their collection from any computer.

Search the collection and browse photos on the Vargas Gem and Mineral Collection Web site.