Why is luster important for mineral identification?

1 Answer
Feb 20, 2016

Its one of many diagnostic tests in mineral identification and particularly good for identifying metallic minerals which tend to have a shiny metallic luster.


The luster of a mineral is the way that it reflects light. This may seem like a difficult distinction to make, but picture the difference between the way light reflects off a glass window and the way it reflects off of a shiny chrome car bumper. A mineral that reflects light the way glass does has a vitreous (or glassy) luster; a mineral that reflects light like chrome has a metallic luster. There are a variety of additional possibilities for luster, including pearly, waxy, and resinous (see pictures in Figure 5). Minerals that are as brilliantly reflective as diamond have an adamantine luster. With a little practice, luster is as easily recognized as color and can be quite distinctive, particularly for minerals that occur in multiple colors like quartz.http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Earth-Science/6/Properties-of-Minerals/130enter image source here