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Gallery of Mineral Lusters


Luster 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. No two discussions of luster are the same, and not all the types of luster are equally well defined.

I might call luster the combination of reflectance (shininess) and transparency. In that scheme, 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

Images 1-12 of 24
The truest metallic lusterMetallic Luster in GalenaDistinctive whether shiny or dullMetallic Luster in GoldShiny and weathered togetherMetallic Luster in MagnetiteGolden metallicMetallic Luster in Chalcopyrite
A brassy aggregateMetallic Luster in PyriteCan also be dullSubmetallic Luster in HematiteTypical specimens are more greasyAdamantine Luster in DiamondDue to extreme hardnessAdamantine Luster in Ruby
Second only to diamondAdamantine Luster in ZirconIt earned an adamantine nameAdamantine Luster in Andradite GarnetPart of a wide luster rangeAdamantine Luster in CinnabarThe luster definedGlassy or Vitreous Luster in Quartz
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