Mike Rumsey

How did our young scientists get interested in the natural world?

Mike Rumsey - Mineralogist

A mineralogist studies rocks, gems and other minerals.

What made you want to be a mineralogist?
Mike Rumsey, Mineralogist

Mike Rumsey.

I have always been interested in the outdoors and the natural world. My grandfather made jewellery out of polished stones and when I was a child he would give me the left over rocks from his creations.

Slowly I collected many different coloured rocks including amethyst, malachite, ruby and quartz. As I grew older I collected more specimens and became interested in the science behind the rocks and minerals. I then began to mix my interest in the outdoors and my mineral collection, by going to collect minerals myself and by studying geology.

It was around this time I decided I would like to be a mineralogist, and would spend all day looking at colourful rocks and minerals.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to be a mineralogist?

The best thing to do is to join a local society and go out into the countryside and collect rocks and minerals yourself. It is very satisfying to have a collection of specimens you gathered yourself.

What subjects at school were you best at?

I was best at maths, physics, chemistry and geology/geography.

What's the best thing about being a mineralogist?

Having a job that is also my hobby is great, and being a mineralogist allows me to go outside collecting specimens every once in a while instead of being stuck indoors behind a desk all day.

What's the worst thing about being a mineralogist?

I have to handle some rare minerals very carefully and take necessary precautions, as they can sometimes be harmful.

What's the most exciting thing you've found, discovered or researched?

I am currently researching a type of mineral entirely new to science, which has never been found before anywhere across the whole world. This is very exciting.

What's your favourite mineral?

My favourite mineral is called cavansite. It forms bright, intense blue balls of spiky little crystals and is found in India. My favourite gemstone is called tanzanite, I like it because it has a deep purple colour when cut.

What's your favourite thing on display in the Museum?

My favourite is the Latrobe gold nugget, which shows us what gold looks like in the rare instance it becomes crystalline.

What's your favourite website about mineralogy?

The Mineral Database is a great site about mineralogy, with thousands of pictures of even the rarest minerals and gems. It is very useful for both simple and highly technical information.

What's your favourite book about mineralogy?

My favourite book about mineralogy is called The Caldbeck Fells by Mick Cooper and Chris Stanley. It is all about the history of mining and collecting minerals in an area called the Caldbeck Fells in the Lake District, Cumbria. When I was younger I used to visit this area a lot on hiking and collecting trips. It's a beautiful place with an interesting past.

Are there any clubs or societies young people can join if they want to take their interest further?

There are many local clubs and societies that are interested in minerals, gems, jewellery and geology. There is an organisation called FLAGS (Federation of Lapidary and Geological Sciences), which has a small directory of all the other regional societies and clubs.

Specifically for mineralogy my favourite is the Russell Society, a nationwide organisation with junior and family membership rates and which organises lots of mineral-based field trips during the year where anyone is welcome to join in.

For kids and young geologists there is also the Geological Association's Rockwatch, which covers all areas of geology not just mineralogy.

What would you do if you weren't a mineralogist?

I would like to be an explorer who drew maps of remote, exotic places (cartographer) or a professional snow boarder.

Further info

Rocks and minerals

Minerals gallery

Mission: Explore  

External links

The Mineral Database

The Russell Society


Glossary - what does that word mean?

Nugget – a small, solid lump, especially of gold.

Geology – the scientific study of the origin, history, and structure of the earth.

Cartographer – someone who makes maps or charts.