Gen and Martha Vargas

Biographical Information

The late Glenn and Martha Vargas were internationally recognized authorities on lapidary arts and were longtime supporters and benefactors of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. In a span of 24 years, from 1975-1999, they taught faceting, lapidary and gemology to thousands of students as part of the Department's Gems and Gem Minerals course. Their abundant generosity is evident throughout the Jackson Geoscience Building by the numerous displays and collections that bear their name. They are perhaps best known internationally for their book "Faceting for Amateurs," a three-book series on facet diagrams, and for numerous articles in trade periodicals and magazines. Beginning in the 1940s and continuing through the 1990s, through their teaching, publications, faceting equipment and minerals businesses, they played a very large role in popularizing faceting at the amateur level, helping turn what was once a secretive trade into a hobby that is today enjoyed by millions.

In addition to their active participation in the Department's programs and collections, they created two undergraduate scholarships (the Glenn and Martha Vargas Endowed Presidential Scholarship and the Glenn and Martha Vargas Gemological Scholarship), provided an endowment to support the Gem and Gem Mineral class (the Glenn and Martha Vargas Endowment for Gem and Gem Mineral Instruction), and created a fund for curation of Department mineral collections (the Glenn and Martha Vargas Endowment for Gem and Mineral Curation). These endowments and scholarships are administered by the Geology Foundation of the Jackson School of Geosciences.