Glossary of Mineral Terminology

This section explains some of the more specialized terminology used in the industry to describe mineral and crystal attributes, shapes, and features.

Crystal Habits & Growth PatternsCrystal habit is a technical term which describes the actual shape of a crystal. Growth pattern describes how groups of these shapes form together. Some of the descriptive crystal habits and growth patterns include: View Glossary
Mohs HardnessHardness is measured by the mohs scale. For each number, an example mineral is given. 1 is the softest (Talc) and 10 is the hardest mineral known to humans (Diamonds). Note that the scale is not linear, it is logarithmic. View Glossary
LusterLuster describes the surface appearrance of a mineral. This is one of the key diagnostic features of a mineral. View Glossary
Optical PhenomenaOptical phenomena describe distinctive "plays of light" or "color changes" that occur at or near the surface of minerals, that can be described in distinctive terms. View Glossary
Industry TerminologyThese are some peculiar terms you might have heard from mineral dealers and collectors and thought huh? What are you talking about? View Glossary
ClassificationSome general classifications are used in the collection to differentiate specimens from various domains of science.View Glossary


Luster describes the surface appearrance of a mineral. This is one of the key diagnostic features of a mineral.

Adamantine Having high refractive index like a diamond
Dull Not shiny or reflective
Earthy Soil or clay like surface texture
Greasy Oily or grease like appearrance
Metallic Shiny and reflective, like a polished, chrome metal surface
Milky Dull white to off white with slight translucency
Pearly Having an iridescence similar to pearls
Resinous Having the apperance of a resin or gum
Silky Having a surface appearrance like silk, with very fine parallel layers
SubmetallicMetallic, but dull
Vitreous Shiny but not reflective
Waxy Similar to wax, smooth but not shiny

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