10 Minerals That Have Metallic Luster

Assortment of shiny metallic objects such as lamps and goblets.

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Luster, the way a mineral reflects light, is the first thing to observe in a mineral. Luster can be bright or dull, but the most basic division among the various types of luster is this: Does 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.

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

Bornite

Hunk of bornite on a white background.
Bornite is also called peacock ore because of its coloring.

"Jonathan Zander (Digon3)"/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Bornite is bronze in color with a bright blue-purple tarnish and has a dark-gray or black streak. This mineral has a hardness of 3 and the chemical formula is Cu5FeS4.

Chalcopyrite

Chalcopyrite chunk close up on a gray background.

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Chalcopyrite is brassy yellow with a multicolored tarnish and a dark-green or black streak. This mineral has a hardness of 3.5 to 4. The chemical formula is CuFeS2.

Native Copper Nugget

Shiny copper nugget on a white background.

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Copper has a red-brown tarnish with a copper-red streak. Copper has a hardness of 2.5 to 3.

Copper in Dendritic Habit

Close up look at a piece of dendritic copper.

James St. John/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Copper is red with brown tarnish and a copper-red streak. It has a hardness of 2.5 to 3. Dendritic copper specimens are a popular rock-shop item.

Galena

Chunk of galena on a white background.

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Galena has a silver color with a dark-gray streak. Galena has a hardness of 2.5 and a very heavy weight.

Gold Nugget

Close up of a gold nugget.

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Gold has a golden color and streak, with a hardness of 2.5 to 3. Gold is very heavy.

Hematite

Coin and a chunk of hematite on a white background.

Andrew Alden

Hematite is brown to black or gray with a red-brown streak. It has a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5. Hematite has a wide range of appearance from metallic to dull. The chemical composition is Fe2O3.

Magnetite

Non-crystallized magnetite next to a coin.

Andrew Alden

Magnetite is black or silver in color with a black streak. It has a hardness of 6. Magnetite is naturally magnetic and the chemical composition is Fe3O4. It commonly has no crystals, like this example.

Magnetite Crystal and Lodestone

Two types of magnetite next to a coin.

Andrew Alden

Octahedral crystals are common in magnetite. Very large specimens may act as natural compasses known as lodestones.

Pyrite

Shiny chunk of pyrite close up.

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Pyrite is pale brass-yellow with a dark-green or black streak. Pyrite has a hardness of 6 to 6.5 and it has a heavy weight. The chemical composition is FeS2.