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Translucent Minerals and Gemstones

colourful faceted gemstones

Opaque Translucent Transparent

A translucent mineral or gemstone allows some light to pass through but is not fully transparent.

Some translucent stones can initially appear to be opaque until illuminated from behind. Rhodochrosite is one example.

The degree of translucence in a mineral or gemstone can vary considerably.  Agate can be almost opaque to highly translucent.

An opaque mineral or gemstone prevents any light from passing through.  One that's transparent allows all light to pass through and a translucent mineral or gemstone allows some amount of light to pass through. 

The degree of translucence will usually deteriorate with the presence of flaws, inclusions and impurities.

Transparent and highly translucent gemstones are usually faceted.  Opaque stones or those that exhibit low translucence tend to be cut as cabochons.

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