If you were handed a golden mineral or found it on your own as pictured below, would you immediately think it is gold? Or would you be skeptical and recognize it as pyrite?
If you get confused, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people in history have mistaken gold with Fool’s Gold which is also known as pyrite.
Pyrite is a very common mineral found in a multitude of geological formations from sedimentary deposits to hydrothermal veins. It can be found in Italy, Peru, Spain, the United States, China, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Germany, Australia, Romania, and Bulgaria. We want to enlighten you as much as we can about pyrite so that you can distinguish it from gold and not get fooled!
Who Has Been Fooled?
It is known that Sir Martin Frobisher, who was an English businessman mining in Canada in 1577, found black ore which are rocks with a sparkly appearance that that caught the Queen’s attention as she sent him back in 1578 to get more of this interesting mineral.
Sir Frobisher managed to ship back 1,400 tons although it turned out to be nothing more than amphibolite and pyroxenite, with biotite, pyrite, and mica.
Some of his samples did have a scintilla of gold, namely 5 out of 14 parts per billion!
Another fooled person was Captain Christopher Newport who was crazy about the shiny sand that members of the Patawomeke tribe in Jamestown, Guyana, were trading in exchange for quality goods.
Captain Newport thought the sand had gold and took 1,100 tons of it back to England where, upon further analysis, it turned out to be sediment filled with pyrite.
Another story tells us about Jacques Cartier, a New World explorer from France, who found what he believed were gold and diamonds in what is Canada today. When he got back to France, he discovered that his findings were just quartz and pyrite.
How To Tell Apart Gold From Pyrite?
An easy way to tell apart gold from pyrite and mica (which is also mistaken sometimes for gold) is by hammering it. Gold can be molded evenly into thin leaves under a hammer. However, the other two will crumble into powder.
Also, gold can be easily cut with a knife in contrast to pyrite which will break up and mica which will separate into thin flakes.
Hardness is another characteristic that can tell gold apart from pyrite. Pyrite is actually much harder. On a scale of 1 to 10, gold scores 2.5 to 3 while pyrite registers at 6.5.
Weight is another major distinguishing factor. While pyrite is five times heavier than an equal volume of water, gold is 19 times heavier.
So, now if you do encounter a golden colored rock you will have some handy information which can help you in deciding whether you have found real or fake gold!
What Else You Need To Know About Pyrite?
Pyrite may not have the same value to us as gold, but it still has many uses. For instance, it can be used for obtaining sulfuric acid due to its high sulfur content and is also used as as iron ore.
And finally it is important to remember that while it may not be gold, pyrite is still a beautiful stone in its own right!
Also, pyrite is great for gem-therapies. For those who struggle with frustration, pyrite can help. It decreases anxiety and increases confidence and self-esteem.
Pyrite also works as an energy shield by blocking negativity and allowing the energy flow. You can wear it as a pendant in a necklace or put it inside a bag under your pillow.