Minerals: Native Elements

Minerals are defined by five criteria: 1. Naturally Occurring, 2. Inorganic, 3. Solid, 4. Defined Chemical (Atomic) Formula, and 5. A unique set of physical properties.

Native Elements – are free, uncombined elements what are classified into three groups: Metals such as gold, silver, and copper; semimetals such as arsenic and antimony; and non-metals, including carbon and sulfur.

Metals

Metallic elements are very dense, soft, malleable, ductile, and opaque. Massive dendritic, wire-like habits are common. Distinct crystals are rare.
Specimen: Gold band in Quartzite
Names: Gold is one of the first minerals used by prehistoric cultures. The Latin name for this mineral was “aurum” and Jöns Jakob Berzelius used Au to represent the element when he established the current system of chemical symbols. The Old English word “gold” first appeared in written form about 725 and may further have been derived from “gehl” or “jehl”. May be derived from Anglo-Saxon “gold” = yellow. (Known to alchemists as Sol.)
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Au
Color: Rich yellow, paling to whitish-yellow with increasing silver; blue & green in transmitted light (only thinnest folia [gold leaf])
Crystal structure: Isometric (Cubic)
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 19.3
Luster: Metallic
Diaphaneity: Opaque
Streak: Shining yellow
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Tenacity: Malleable
Source: Forms (pre-Earth) in exploding stars. Found in Hydrothermal veins in mountains and weathered in river channels.
Uses: Currencly, jewelrly, decoration.

 

Specimen: Gold flakes
Names: Gold is one of the first minerals used by prehistoric cultures. The Latin name for this mineral was “aurum” and Jöns Jakob Berzelius used Au to represent the element when he established the current system of chemical symbols. The Old English word “gold” first appeared in written form about 725 and may further have been derived from “gehl” or “jehl”. May be derived from Anglo-Saxon “gold” = yellow. (Known to alchemists as Sol.)
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Au
Color: Rich yellow, paling to whitish-yellow with increasing silver; blue & green in transmitted light (only thinnest folia [gold leaf])
Crystal structure: Isometric (Cubic)
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 19.3
Luster: Metallic
Diaphaneity: Opaque
Streak: Shining yellow
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Tenacity: Malleable
Source: Forms (pre-Earth) in exploding stars. Found in Hydrothermal veins in mountains and weathered in river channels.
Uses: Currencly, jewelrly, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Silver flakes
Name origin: An Old English word “seolfor” whose original meaning is now lost. The current spelling “silver” was known as early as 1478. Known in ancient Roman times as argentum. The chemical element abbreviation Ag comes from argentum.
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Ag
Color: Silver-white, tarnishes dark gray to black
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 10.5
Luster: Metallic
Diaphaneity: Opaque
Streak: Silver white
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Tenacity: Malleable
Source: Forms in exploding stars. Found in hydrothermal veins in mountains and volcanoes
Uses: Currencly, jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Silver 
Name origin: An Old English word “seolfor” whose original meaning is now lost. The current spelling “silver” was known as early as 1478. Known in ancient Roman times as argentum. The chemical element abbreviation Ag comes from argentum.
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Ag
Color: Silver-white, tarnishes dark gray to black
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 10.5
Luster: Metallic
Diaphaneity: Opaque
Streak: Silver white
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Tenacity: Malleable
Source: Forms in exploding stars. Found in hydrothermal veins in mountains and volcanoes
Uses: Currencly, jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Silver on quartz
Name origin: An Old English word “seolfor” whose original meaning is now lost. The current spelling “silver” was known as early as 1478. Known in ancient Roman times as argentum. The chemical element abbreviation Ag comes from argentum.
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Ag
Color: Silver-white, tarnishes dark gray to black
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 10.5
Luster: Metallic
Diaphaneity: Opaque
Streak: Silver white
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Tenacity: Malleable
Source: Forms in exploding stars. Found in hydrothermal veins in mountains and volcanoes
Uses: Currencly, jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Silver 
Name origin: An Old English word “seolfor” whose original meaning is now lost. The current spelling “silver” was known as early as 1478. Known in ancient Roman times as argentum. The chemical element abbreviation Ag comes from argentum.
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Ag
Color: Silver-white, tarnishes dark gray to black
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 10.5
Luster: Metallic
Diaphaneity: Opaque
Streak: Silver white
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Tenacity: Malleable
Source: Forms in exploding stars. Found in hydrothermal veins in mountains and volcanoes
Uses: Currencly, jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Copper
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Cu
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 8.9
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Source: Forms in exploding stars. ound in hydrothermal veins in mountains.
Uses: Currencly (United States penny coating), jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Copper
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Cu
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 8.9
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Source: Forms in exploding stars. ound in hydrothermal veins in mountains.
Uses: Currencly (United States penny coating), jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Native Copper (Oxidizing)
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Cu
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 8.9
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Source: Forms in exploding stars. ound in hydrothermal veins in mountains.
Uses: Currencly (United States penny coating), jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Oxidized Native Copper
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Cu
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 8.9
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Source: Forms in exploding stars. ound in hydrothermal veins in mountains.
Uses: Currencly (United States penny coating), jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Specimen: Oxidized Native Copper
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Cu
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity: 8.9
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: None
Fracture: Hackly
Source: Forms in exploding stars. ound in hydrothermal veins in mountains.
Uses: Currencly (United States penny coating), jewelrly, utensils, decoration.

 

Semimetals

Unilike metals, semimetals are poor conductors of electricity, and they usually occur in nodular masses.
Specimen: Native Bismuth
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Bi
Crystal structure: Trigonal/Hexagonal
Hardness: 2 to 2.5
Specific Gravity: 9.7 to 9.8
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: Perfect basal
Fracture: Uneven
Source: Hydrothermal veins and pegmatites
Uses: Collections

 

Specimen: Man-made Bismuth
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Bi
Crystal structure: Trigonal/Hexagonal
Hardness: 2 to 2.5
Specific Gravity: 9.7 to 9.8
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: Perfect basal
Fracture: Uneven
Source: Hydrothermal veins and pegmatites
Uses: Collections

 

Specimen: Man-made Bismuth
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: Bi
Crystal structure: Trigonal/Hexagonal
Hardness: 2 to 2.5
Specific Gravity: 9.7 to 9.8
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: Perfect basal
Fracture: Uneven
Source: Hydrothermal veins and pegmatites
Uses: Collections

 

Specimen: Arsenic
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: As
Crystal structure: Trigonal/Hexagonal
Hardness: 3.5
Specific Gravity: 5.7
Luster: Metallic
Cleavage: Perfect basal
Fracture: Uneven
Source: Hydrothermal veins
Uses: Collections

 

Non-metals

Non-metallic elements are tranparent to translucent, do not conduct electricity, and tend to form distinct crystals.
Specimen: Native Sulfur
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: S
Crystal structure: Orthorhombic
Hardness: 1.5 to 2.5
Specific gravity: 2.0 to 2.1
Luster: Vitreous to resinous
Cleavage: Imperfect basal
Fracture: Uneven to conchoidal
Source: Forms around volcanic craters and hot springs.
Uses: Collections, matches, industrial uses.

 

Specimen: Native Sulfur
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: S
Crystal structure: Orthorhombic
Hardness: 1.5 to 2.5
Specific gravity: 2.0 to 2.1
Luster: Vitreous to resinous
Cleavage: Imperfect basal
Fracture: Uneven to conchoidal
Source: Forms around volcanic craters and hot springs.
Uses: Collections, matches, industrial uses.

 

Specimen: Native Sulfur
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: S
Crystal structure: Orthorhombic
Hardness: 1.5 to 2.5
Specific gravity: 2.0 to 2.1
Luster: Vitreous to resinous
Cleavage: Imperfect basal
Fracture: Uneven to conchoidal
Source: Forms around volcanic craters and hot springs.
Uses: Collections, matches, industrial uses.

 

Specimen: Native Rough Diamond
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: C
Crystal structure: Cubic
Hardness: 10
Specific gravity: 3.52
Luster: Vitreous
Cleavage: Perfect octahedral
Fracture: Conchoidal
Source: Forms in ultrabasic rocks (kimberlites), and pipelike intrustions.
Uses: Collections, jewelery, industiral grits and drillbits.

 

Specimen: Native Graphite
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: C
Crystal structure: Trigonal/Hexagonal
Hardness: 1 to 2
Specific gravity: 2.1 to 2.3
Luster: Sub-metallic
Cleavage: Perfect basal
Fracture: Uneven
Streak: Black to grey
Feel: Greasy
Source: Forms in metamorphic rocks including slate and schist
Uses: Industiral lubricant and pencils.

 

Specimen: Native Graphite
Classification: Native Elements
Chemical Composition: C
Crystal structure: Trigonal/Hexagonal
Hardness: 1 to 2
Specific gravity: 2.1 to 2.3
Luster: Sub-metallic
Cleavage: Perfect basal
Fracture: Uneven
Streak: Black to grey
Feel: Greasy
Source: Forms in metamorphic rocks including slate and schist
Uses: Industiral lubricant and pencils.

 

Click here to see my mineral teaching display.

Data: Pellant, Chris. Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks and Minerals, The clearest recognition guides avaiable. A Dorling Kindersley Book.

<< Back to Mineral Menu

Specimen Gallery

Next to Sulfides >>