Science, Tech, Math › Science Examples of Different Mineral Lusters Share Flipboard Email Print Science Geology Types Of Rocks Landforms and Geologic Features Geologic Processes Plate Tectonics Chemistry Biology Physics Astronomy Weather & Climate By Andrew Alden Geology Expert B.A., Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire Andrew Alden is a geologist based in Oakland, California. He works as a research guide for the U.S. Geological Survey. our editorial process Andrew Alden Updated May 25, 2019 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, opaqueSubmetallic: medium reflectance, opaqueAdamantine: very high reflectance, transparentGlassy: high reflectance, transparent or translucentResinous: medium reflectance, translucentWaxy: medium reflectance, translucent or opaquePearly: low reflectance, translucent or opaqueDull: 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. 01 of 27 Metallic Luster in Galena Galena. lissart / Getty Images Galena has the real metallic luster, with every fresh face like a mirror. 02 of 27 Metallic Luster in Gold Gold. Jean-Philippe Boucicaut / EyeEm / Getty Images Gold has a metallic luster, shiny on a clean face and dull on a worn face like this nugget. 03 of 27 Metallic Luster in Magnetite Magnetite. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto / Getty Images Magnetite has a metallic luster, shiny on a clean face and dull on a weathered face. 04 of 27 Metallic Luster in Chalcopyrite Chalcopyrite. Assistant / Getty Images Chalcopyrite has a metallic luster although it is a metal sulfide rather than a metal. 05 of 27 Metallic Luster in Pyrite Pyrite. lissart / Getty Images Pyrite has a metallic or submetallic luster although it is an iron sulfide rather than a metal. 06 of 27 Submetallic Luster in Hematite Hematite. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto / Getty Images Hematite has a submetallic luster in this specimen, although it can also be dull. 07 of 27 Adamantine Luster in Diamond Diamond. Mina De La O / Getty Images 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. 08 of 27 Adamantine Luster in Ruby Ruby. Kerrick / Getty Images Ruby and other varieties of corundum can display an adamantine luster owing to its high index of refraction. 09 of 27 Adamantine Luster in Zircon Zircon. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto / Getty Images Zircon has an adamantine luster owing to its high index of refraction, which is second only to diamond. 10 of 27 Adamantine Luster in Andradite Garnet Andradite. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto/Getty Images Andradite can display adamantine luster in high-quality specimens, which led to its traditional name of demantoid (diamondlike) garnet. 11 of 27 Adamantine Luster in Cinnabar Cinnabar. Jasius / Getty Images Cinnabar displays a range of lusters from waxy to submetallic, but in this specimen it is closest to adamantine. 12 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Quartz Quartz. Dianne Claire Alinsonorin/EyeEm/Getty Images Quartz sets the standard for glassy (vitreous) luster, especially in clear crystals like these. 13 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Olivine Peridot mineral stone. Tom Cockrem / Getty Images Olivine has a glassy (vitreous) luster that is typical of silicate minerals. 14 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Topaz Topaz. SunChan / Getty Images Topaz displays a glassy (vitreous) luster in these well-formed crystals. 15 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Selenite Selenite, satin spar, desert rose, and gypsum flower are four varieties of the mineral gypsum. Nastasic / Getty Images 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. 16 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster in Actinolite Actinolite. Tom Cockrem / Getty Images Actinolite has a glassy (vitreous) luster, although it can also look pearly or resinous or even silky if its crystals are fine enough. 17 of 27 Resinous Luster in Amber Amber. Image by Catherine MacBride / Getty Images Amber is the typical material displaying resinous luster. This term generally is applied to minerals of warm color with some transparency. 18 of 27 Resinous Luster in Spessartine Garnet Spessartine Garnet. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto/Getty Images Spessartine garnet can display the golden, soft sheen known as resinous luster. 19 of 27 Waxy Luster in Chalcedony Chalcedony. Robert Redmond / Getty Images Chalcedony is the form of quartz with microscopic crystals. Here, in the form of chert, it shows a typical waxy luster. 20 of 27 Waxy Luster in Variscite Variscite mineral, detail. Schafer & Hill / Getty Images Variscite is a phosphate mineral with a well-developed waxy luster. Waxy luster is typical of many secondary minerals with microscopic crystals. 21 of 27 Pearly Luster in Talc Talc. Julian Popov/EyeEm/Getty Images Talc is well known for its pearly luster, derived from its extremely thin layers that interact with light penetrating the surface. 22 of 27 Pearly Luster in Muscovite Muscovite. Aaron Miller / Getty Images Muscovite, like other mica minerals, gets its pearly luster from the extremely thin layers beneath its surface which is otherwise glassy. 23 of 27 Dull or Earthy Luster in Psilomelane Psilomelane. University of Minnesota Mineral Collection Psilomelane has a dull or earthy luster owing to its extremely small or nonexistent crystals and lack of transparency. 24 of 27 Dull or Earthy Luster in Chrysocolla Chrysocolla. Jasius / Getty Images Chrysocolla has a dull or earthy luster, even though it is vibrantly colorful, owing to its microscopic crystals. 25 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster - Aragonite Aragonite. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto / Getty Images Aragonite has a glassy (vitreous) luster on fresh faces or high-quality crystals like these. 26 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster - Calcite Calcite. Matteo Chinellato - ChinellatoPhoto/Getty Images Calcite has a glassy (vitreous) luster, although being a soft mineral it turns duller with exposure. 27 of 27 Glassy or Vitreous Luster - Tourmaline Tourmaline. Shannon Gorman/EyeEm/Getty Images Tourmaline has a glassy (vitreous) luster, although a black specimen like this schorl crystal is not what we normally think of as glassy.