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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Lustre

The appearance of the smooth surface of a mineral or some other substances due to the reflection that results from light striking the surface. It is a quality of opaque or translucent stones.

There are several kinds of lustre:

  • metallic: the most brilliant, as shown by polished metals and many metallic minerals, e.g. crystalline hematite; adamantine, characteristic of diamonds
  • vitreous: as shown by ruby, sapphire, and glass
  • resinous: as shown by amber and other resins, a greasy lustre and a waxy lustre being rather similar
  • pearly: as seen on the surface of pearls and on the cleavage faces of some crystals
  • silky: as shown by cat's-eye and other fibrous minerals

Lustre is seen on a smooth surface where ridges are present to reflect the light in many directions. The degrees of lustre, indicating intensity, are 'splendent' (mirror-like), 'shining' (indistinct), 'glistening' (feeble), and 'dull' (almost none).

Lustre should not be confused with sheen.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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