The BEST Place to Learn about Rocks and Minerals

Mineral Identification

Although nearly 2,500 minerals are known to occur within Earth's crust, most are rare with only about 100 occurring in abundance. Of those 100 minerals, fifteen make up the common rock-forming minerals and only some of the remaining minerals have any economic value.

There are 5 steps to take in mineral identification. They are as follows:

Step 1
Determine the luster (metallic or nonmetallic) of your mineral.

Step 2
Determine the hardness of your mineral. Using a glass plate, see if the mineral scratches it. Be careful, making sure the glass is on a table. Do not hold in your hand. Firmly grasp your mineral and draw it over the glass. If the mineral powders, then use your fingernail to feel if the glass is scratched.

Step 3
Determine whether your mineral is light-colored or dark-colored (nonmetallics only).

Step 4
Determine whether your sample has cleavage.

Step 5
Use the chart to determine what physical properties listed best fit your mineral and identify your mineral.