Mineral collections


An X-ray image of a beryl crystal showing the symmetry of the crystal structure. X-ray images like this one were first used to show that the atoms that make up crystals are symmetrically arranged. The Museum holds a continuous record of X-ray diffraction films, photographs and digital data undertaken in our laboratories since 1937.

We preserve, manage and curate the UK national mineral and gem collections, a record of global mineralogical diversity and the basis for our geological research.

We ensure the collection stays as accessible and relevant as possible to both academics and the public.

Our projects

Type mineral specimens

The crystals used to scientifically define a mineral are known as type specimens, and the Museum houses one of the largest and most historic type specimen collections in the world. These specimens are sacrosanct reference materials that also help re-appraise how we classify the mineral kingdom.

Re-evaluation of the Kingsbury Collection

The Arthur Kingsbury collection of UK minerals is diverse but problematic. Recent research discovered examples of erroneous claims which have subsequently crept into the scientific literature, we are systematically using the collection to correct these errors.

Science heritage: preserving  X-ray diffraction photographs

The Museum holds a continuous record of X-ray film investigations undertaken in our laboratories since 1937. These films have significant legacy and heritage value and transforming them into an accessible digital archive will preserve a valuable resource for future research.


The gem collection has outstanding specificity with regards to source locations, some of which may no longer be used as a gem resource. In combination with the globally extensive mineral collection we are applying the gem collection to aspects of cultural heritage and an exploration of fundamental gem properties.

Two people stand either side a cabinet of gems

Mike Rumsey and Robin Hanson with examples from the gem collections at an international mineral show.

Museum contacts

Mike Rumsey

Robin Hansen


Roy Starkey (NHM, Scientific Associate)

David Green (Scientific Associate, National Museum of Wales)

Explore the Mineralogy Collections

The Mineralogy Collections at the Museum are made up of separate collections of minerals, gems, rocks, meteorites and ores.

Core labs and consulting

Our research labs are available for complex analyses of mineralogical and palaeontological samples, including ancient DNA.

Mineral sciences group

The mineral sciences group manages one of the world's most significant mineral collections.