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Minerals with Metallic Luster


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—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 (learn more about streak here).

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

Mineral Identification in 10 Steps

Images 1-12 of 12
Also called peacock oreBornitePrime ore of copperChalcopyriteIn gangueChalcopyrite in Rock MatrixAbout 3 cm acrossNative Copper Nugget
Fresh native copper wireCopper in Dendritic HabitThe primary lead oreGalenaA 2-cm Alaskan nuggetGold NuggetMore submetallic than metallicHematite
Uncrystallized magnetiteMagnetiteTwo examplesMagnetite Crystal and LodestoneIn quartz matrixPyriteTwo equant habitsPyrite Crystal Forms
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