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For more than 60 years, Californian Joel Hauser passionately pursued nature's "mineral marvels" — ornamental specimens of exceptional size and beauty.
The Gemological Institute of America Museum in Carlsbad, Calif., recently acquired a cache of Hauser's finest agates, geodes, minerals and petrified wood through a generous donation by the Hauser family.
Many of the 63 standouts from the Joel and Barbara Hauser Mineral Collection represent pieces from places with restricted access or that are no longer producing, according to the GIA.
GIA noted that on one of Hauser's California expeditions, he discovered agate geodes in Riverside County’s Little Chuckwalla Mountains. Today, the area is known as the Hauser Geode Beds.
Hauser, who passed away in 1993, was a skilled lapidary and innovator. Not only did he master the art of contour polishing, but he also designed and modified saws and grinding equipment that could handle the cutting and polishing of almost any specimen, including large pieces of petrified wood.
“His freeform, undulating polishing style adds interest and texture while removing blemishes, without having to grind away more material than necessary," said Terri Ottaway, GIA’s museum curator. "Joel’s expertise, guided by an artistic eye and perspective, revealed the lovely patterns, markings and colors in the minerals."
Nearly 50 of Hauser's most celebrated pieces are now on display at the GIA Museum. They will serve as as prime learning tools for students and visitors to GIA about mineral formation and lapidary artistry.
Credits: Azurite (Bisbee, AZ); Variscite (Utah); Laguna Iris Agate (Mexico); Petrified pinecone and wood (Argentina and Utah). All photos by Orasa Weldon; ©GIA.