Minerals with Metallic Luster

01
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Bornite

Also called peacock ore
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Luster, the way a mineral reflects light, is the first thing to observe in a mineral. Luster can be bright or dull (see the major types here), but the most basic division among the various types of luster is this¬ódoes it look like a metal or not? The metallic-looking minerals are a relatively small and distinctive group, worth mastering before you approach the nonmetallic minerals.

Of around 50 metallic minerals, just a few make up the great majority of specimens. This gallery includes their color, streak, Mohs hardness, other distinguishing characteristics and chemical formula. Streak, the color of the powdered mineral, is a truer indication of color than the surface appearance, which can be affected by tarnish and stains (learn more about streak here).

The great majority of minerals with metallic luster are sulfide or oxide minerals.

Mineral Identification in 10 Steps

Bornite: Bronze (bright blue-purple tarnish), dark-gray or black streak, hardness 3, Cu5FeS4.

02
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Chalcopyrite

Prime ore of copper
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Chalcopyrite: brass-yellow (multicolored tarnish), dark-green or black streak, hardness 3.5 to 4, CuFeS2.

03
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Chalcopyrite in Rock Matrix

In gangue
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Chalcopyrite: brass-yellow (multicolored tarnish), dark-green or black streak, hardness 3.5 to 4, CuFeS2.

04
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Native Copper Nugget

About 3 cm across
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Copper: red (brown tarnish), copper-red streak, hardness 2.5 to 3, Cu with some silver, arsenic, iron and other metals.

05
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Copper in Dendritic Habit

Fresh native copper wire
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Copper: red (brown tarnish), copper-red streak, hardness 2.5 to 3, Cu with some silver, arsenic, iron and other metals. Dendritic copper specimens are a popular rock-shop item.

06
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Galena

The primary lead ore
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Galena: silver color, dark-gray streak, hardness 2.5, very heavy, PbS.

07
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Gold Nugget

A 2-cm Alaskan nugget
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Gold: golden color and streak, hardness 2.5 to 3, very heavy, Au with some silver and platinum-group metals.

08
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Hematite

More submetallic than metallic
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Hematite: brown to black or gray, red-brown streak, hardness 5.5 to 6.5, wide range of appearance from metallic to dull, Fe2O3. See the other side in the mineral habits gallery.

09
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Magnetite

Uncrystallized magnetite
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Magnetite: black or silver, black streak, hardness 6, magnetic, Fe3O4. It commonly has no crystals, like this example.

10
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Magnetite Crystal and Lodestone

Two examples
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Magnetite: black or silver, black streak, hardness 6, magnetic, Fe3O4. Octahedral crystals are common. Large massive specimens may act as natural compasses¬ólodestones.

11
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Pyrite

In quartz matrix
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Pyrite: pale brass-yellow, dark-green or black streak, hardness 6 to 6.5, cubic crystals in this case, heavy, FeS2.

12
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Pyrite Crystal Forms

Two equant habits
Minerals with Metallic Luster. Photo (c) 2007 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

Pyrite: pale brass-yellow, dark-green or black streak, hardness 6 to 6.5, cubic or pyritohedral crystals, heavy, FeS2. These crystals are in the equant mineral habit.