A natural cubic formation Galena crystal with an exceptionally vibrant silver luster.
Galena, also called lead glance, is the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. It is the most important ore of lead and an important source of silver.
Galena is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. It crystallizes in the cubic crystal system often showing octahedral forms. It is often associated with the minerals sphalerite, calcite and fluorite.
One of the oldest uses of galena was as kohl, which, in Ancient Egypt, was applied around the eyes to reduce the glare of the desert sun and to repel flies, which were a potential source of disease.
Galena contains lead, a toxic element. While bound to crystal structure, the lead content of galena is of minor concern and the mineral is safe to handle. However, prolonged exposure via inhalation or ingestion of the pulverized dust is hazardous to one's health.