MinEmeralds Library



Pyrite has the property of generating sparks if hit with a metal object, and its name comes from this characteristic, the Greek root “pyr” meaning fire due to mineral trade in different cultures and phonetic changes, it derived to the word pyrite as we know it today.

Geological Origin

Pyrite appears in large quantities in very different environments, the most common being sulfides mineral. We find pyrite in deposits of sedimentary volcanic and metamorphic rocks, as an accessory mineral in igneous rocks, in contact hydrothermal seams, in contact metamorphic deposits, in slates with a very well formed cubic habit, and we can also find fossils with pyrite coatings as ammonites pyritized.

The well-known saying “All that glitters is not gold” plays a key role in the history of pyrite


The well-known saying “All that glitters is not gold” plays a key role in the history of pyrite, as in the days of the Gold Rush (the United States, XIX century), word spread that people got rich by finding gold in rivers and mines, and as a result of these rumors, thousands of people moved to this country in order to seek fortune.

However, since in most cases, they were not mining experts or at least familiar with gold, some were deceived by scammers, posing the mineral that is known as Pyrite, as gold. They charged large sums for the “findings”, and in light of this situation, this mineral was known at that time as the “fool’s gold”.


The main deposits of pyrite can be located in Peru, Bolivia, United States, Mexico, Romania, and Spain. In Colombia we can find pyrite in all its crystalline habits, but the best crystallizations are not as common.

Characteristics and Properties

Mineral Type Sulfide
Pale brass-yellow
Greenish-black to brownish-black
6-6.5 Mohs
Specific Gravity
4.9 – 5.2
Very uneven, sometimes conchoidal
Crystal System
Cubic, octahedral and pyritohedron, faces may be striated
Chemical Formula
Insoluble in water
Magnetic after heating
Unit Cell
a = 5.417 Å, Z=4
Penetration and contact twinning

False Names

Pyrite can be mistaken as gold, marcasite, and chalcopyrite which is distinguished by its hardness and lighter color. To the touch, pyrite is cold and heavy. The pyrites’ scratch on the ceramic plaque, is greenish black, and in turn, it can be scratched with a key.


Pyrite, besides being appreciated in jewelry, costumes, and collectibles; is frequently used in the industrial chemical sector in obtaining sulfuric acid, polishing powder, red and brown colors and as iron ore, given the high sulfur content of the mineral. In the esoteric field pyrite is called the stone house, therefore, considered to bring peace and well-being at home. It is recommended for business, study, and communication powers. Furthermore, since it is attributed great protective force, it is indicated to deflect negative energies. It is said, that it helps uncover hidden talents and to overcome intellectual problems at work.

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