Examples of Different Mineral Lusters

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Alden, Andrew. "Examples of Different Mineral Lusters." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/examples-of-different-mineral-lusters-4122803. Alden, Andrew. (2017, February 28). Examples of Different Mineral Lusters. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-different-mineral-lusters-4122803 Alden, Andrew. "Examples of Different Mineral Lusters." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-different-mineral-lusters-4122803 (accessed September 25, 2017).
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Metallic Luster in Galena

The truest metallic luster
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Luster, also spelled lustre, is a simple word for a complex thing: the way light interacts with the surface of a mineral. This gallery shows the major types of luster, which range from metallic to dull.

I might call luster the combination of reflectance (shininess) and transparency. According to those parameters, here is how the common lusters would come out, allowing some variation:

Metallic: very high reflectance, opaque
Submetallic: medium reflectance, opaque
Adamantine: very high reflectance, transparent
Glassy: high reflectance, transparent or translucent
Resinous: medium reflectance, translucent
Waxy: medium reflectance, translucent or opaque
Pearly: low reflectance, translucent or opaque
Dull: no reflectance, opaque

Other common descriptors include greasy, silky, vitreous and earthy. 

There are no set boundaries between each of these lusters, and different sources may classify luster in different ways. Additionally, a single category of mineral may have specimens within it with different lusters. Luster is qualitative rather than quantitative. 

Edited by Brooks Mitchell

Galena has the real metallic luster, with every fresh face like a mirror. See the metallic minerals gallery

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Metallic Luster in Gold

Distinctive whether shiny or dull
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Gold has a metallic luster, shiny on a clean face and dull on a worn face like this nugget. See the metallic minerals gallery

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Metallic Luster in Magnetite

Shiny and weathered together
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Magnetite has a metallic luster, shiny on a clean face and dull on a weathered face. See the metallic minerals gallery

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Metallic Luster in Chalcopyrite

Golden metallic
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Chalcopyrite has a metallic luster although it is a metal sulfide rather than a metal. See the metallic minerals gallery

05
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Metallic Luster in Pyrite

A brassy aggregate
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Pyrite has a metallic or submetallic luster although it is an iron sulfide rather than a metal. See the metallic minerals gallery

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Submetallic Luster in Hematite

Can also be dull
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Hematite has a submetallic luster in this specimen, although it can also be dull. See the metallic minerals gallery

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Adamantine Luster in Diamond

Typical specimens are more greasy
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Diamond shows the definitive adamantine luster (extremely shiny, even fiery), but only on a clean crystal face or fracture surface. This specimen has a luster better described as greasy.

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Adamantine Luster in Ruby

Due to extreme hardness
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Ruby and other varieties of corundum can display an adamantine luster owing to its high index of refraction.

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Adamantine Luster in Zircon

Second only to diamond
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Zircon has an adamantine luster owing to its high index of refraction, which is second only to diamond.

10
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Adamantine Luster in Andradite Garnet

It earned an adamantine name
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Andradite can display adamantine luster in high-quality specimens, which led to its traditional name of demantoid (diamondlike) garnet.

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Adamantine Luster in Cinnabar

Part of a wide luster range
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Cinnabar displays a range of lusters from waxy to submetallic, but in this specimen it is closest to adamantine.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Quartz

The luster defined
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Quartz sets the standard for glassy (vitreous) luster, especially in clear crystals like these.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Olivine

Like most silicates
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Olivine has a glassy (vitreous) luster that is typical of silicate minerals.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Topaz

A typical silicate
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Topaz displays a glassy (vitreous) luster in these well-formed crystals.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Selenite

A moonshine sheen
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Selenite or clear gypsum has a glassy (vitreous) luster, though not as well developed as other minerals. Its sheen, likened to moonlight, accounts for its name.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Actinolite

Marginally glassy
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Actinolite has a glassy (vitreous) luster, although it can also look pearly or resinous or even silky if its crystals are fine enough.

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Resinous Luster in Amber

The definition of resinous
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Amber is the typical material displaying resinous luster. This term generally is applied to minerals of warm color with some transparency.

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Resinous Luster in Spessartine Garnet

Luster mixed with color
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Spessartine garnet can display the golden, soft sheen known as resinous luster.

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Waxy Luster in Chalcedony

The typical instance
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy) (fair use policy)

Chalcedony is the form of quartz with microscopic crystals. Here, in the form of chert, it shows a typical waxy luster.

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Waxy Luster in Variscite

Typical secondary mineral
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Variscite is a phosphate mineral with a well-developed waxy luster. Waxy luster is typical of many secondary minerals with microscopic crystals.

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Pearly Luster in Talc

A sign of softness
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Talc is well known for its pearly luster, derived from its extremely thin layers that interact with light penetrating the surface.

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Pearly Luster in Muscovite

Like the rest of the micas
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Muscovite, like other mica minerals, gets its pearly luster from the extremely thin layers beneath its surface which is otherwise glassy.

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Dull or Earthy Luster in Psilomelane

Never shiny
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Psilomelane has a dull or earthy luster owing to its extremely small or nonexistent crystals and lack of transparency.

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Dull or Earthy Luster in Chrysocolla

Bright but dull
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Chrysocolla has a dull or earthy luster, even though it is vibrantly colorful, owing to its microscopic crystals.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster - Aragonite

Like most carbonates
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com

Aragonite has a glassy (vitreous) luster on fresh faces or high-quality crystals like these.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster - Calcite

On a fresh cleavage surface
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com

Calcite has a glassy (vitreous) luster, although being a soft mineral it turns duller with exposure.

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Glassy or Vitreous Luster - Tourmaline

Black minerals can fool the eye
Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com

Tourmaline has a glassy (vitreous) luster, although a black specimen like this schorl crystal is not what we normally think of as glassy.

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Alden, Andrew. "Examples of Different Mineral Lusters." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/examples-of-different-mineral-lusters-4122803. Alden, Andrew. (2017, February 28). Examples of Different Mineral Lusters. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-different-mineral-lusters-4122803 Alden, Andrew. "Examples of Different Mineral Lusters." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-different-mineral-lusters-4122803 (accessed September 25, 2017).