Gems and Minerals | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

This large gallery displays an astounding array of over 2000 gem and minerals specimens from California and all over the globe.

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Guide to the Gem and Mineral Hall

Explore the history and in-depth details of the Hall.  View PDF > 

Building Blocks of the Earth

Read up on why studying rocks is so important to our understanding of the natural world.  Learn more >

Best of the West

NHM's gem and mineral collection of about 150,000 specimens is the most significant in the country, west of the Smithsonian. See More

The Story of Gems and Minerals at NHM

How did the Museum acquire all of its gem and mineral specimens over time?

Download "95 Years of Gems & Minerals at NHM" (PDF) to read all about how this popular department has grown. Learn more >

 

Gem and Mineral Hall

The Gem and Mineral Hall displays more than 2,000 spectacular specimens within two large galleries that comprise what is considered to be one of the finest exhibits of gems and minerals in the world.

Reach Out and Touch a Gem

Overall, the exhibit features an incredible array of gems and minerals from all over the globe as well as an extensive collection of California specimens. The objects in the gallery are so beautiful, you can’t help but want to touch them. Luckily visitors are encouraged to interact with multiple “touch specimens” of gems, minerals and meteorites. A slab of gem-quality jadeite, weighing several hundred pounds, is one of the most valuable specimens in the entire exhibit and must be one of the most valuable mineral specimens available for public handling in the world.

The Gem and Mineral Hall houses only a small fraction of the Museum’s extensive collection, which now includes more than 150,000 specimens.


Curators' Favorites

Benitoite

(From the Benitoite Gem mine, San Benito County, California)
California's official state gemstone, benitoite occurs in gem quality at only one place in the world, a mine in the Diablo Range of San Benito County, California. This unique wreath-like intergrowth is one of the finest known specimens of the gem.

Elbaite tourmaline

Elbaite tourmaline

(From the Cruziero mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil)
The Cruzeiro mine has long been one of the world's largest producers of fine gem tourmaline. This specimen, found in 1972, is one of the most dramatically beautiful to come from the mine.
Photo: Harold and Erica Van Pelt

Silver

(From Kongsberg, Norway)
This natural silver "wire" came from the famous mines at Kongsberg, Norway. These mines operated continuously from 1623 until 1957, yielding some of the most beautiful specimens of silver known.

Spessartine garnet

(From the Little Three mine, San Diego County, California)
The bright orange spessartine gemstones from the Hercules Dike at the Little Three mine are regarded as among the finest in the world. This specimen, found in 1987, is the finest known from the mine.

Gold

Gold

(From the Groundhog mine, Gilman, Colorado) Appearing much like a "ram’s-horn", this natural wire gold is one of the finest known. It was found around 1878 and is said to have once belonged to Dr. David H. Dougan, the first mayor of Leadville, Colorado.
Photo: Harold and Erica Van Pelt