The history and origin of Pyrite
Pyrite is a very common mineral that sometimes goes under quite a few other names, most notably Marcasite and Fool’s Gold. Pyrite is a Greek word that means fire and Pyrite definitely fits into this category. Pyrite is a beautiful mineral and extremely interesting. Its main quality is that it resembles gold.
Pyrite is extremely common and found throughout the world. It does have crystal properties that form wonderful block crystals and while these crystals are not the type for ornamental jewelry, Pyrite on its own is a favorite of gemologists and mineral collectors.
Besides being a part of certain ornamental jewelry pieces, Pyrite has had other uses, mainly for the production of sulfur products that are used either when manufacturing paper or to create sulfur gas, which is mainly used for industrial purposes. Pyrite also creates sparks when hit up against steel and was used in early rifles. Whether you are a gem collector or like the sparkle and fire that Pyrite brings to silver or other gemstones, Pyrite is extremely interesting and very attractive.
What is Pyrite used for?
However, since Pyrite is not the main mineral used in many ornamental pieces, it can be used sparingly. For instance, many people that are knowledgeable about silver will know Pyrite as the term Marcasite. Marcasite is incorrectly labeled as the mineral, although it is closely associated with Pyrite, only Pyrite is used with silver. Pyrite is also found in small particles in Lapis Lazuli, a wonderful blue stone that sometimes includes specs of Pyrite that increases the value. A fun fact to know is that Pyrite sometimes termed Fool’s Gold is usually found in real gold because it is also a popular gold ore.
Besides ornamental jewelry, Pyrite has certain other uses including industrial uses such as in the manufacturing of paper and the creation of sulfur gas. Pyrite is an extremely popular mineral and can be found almost everywhere in the world.
While Pyrite is an extremely common mineral, it is very attractive. While Pyrite is decently hard, with a score of 6.5 to 7 on Mohs hardness scale, it cannot be used for most types of ornamental jewelry, because it tends to be extremely brittle and will break apart very easily.
How and where is Pyrite formed and found?
Pyrite is one of the most commonly found minerals. In fact, it would be a normal ore for iron if it came in larger masses than it is normally found in. Pyrite resembles gold in that it is yellow, or brassy yellow and looks like gold. It is ironic that lots of gold found throughout the world including small inclusions of Pyrite.
Pyrite is mainly made from the element of iron. Besides iron, sulfur and oxygen are present. Pyrite is a very interesting and attractive mineral and while it isn’t the best material to make ornamental jewelry out of, due to the fact that it is very brittle, it is used in small amounts for other jewelry and gemstones including Marcasite and Lapis Lazuli. Most Pyrite is found as ore in veins or bands of iron in the earth’s crust. Just like iron, Pyrite can be found and mined in many regions of the world. However, Pyrite is mostly mined in the states of Illinois and Missouri of America, Peru, Russia, Spain, and South Africa.
It is important to note that Marcasite is a polymorph of Pyrite. A polymorph is a mineral that has exactly the same contents, however, the structure of these contents are different causing different properties. While both are brittle, Marcasite is mistakenly added to silver, it is usually Pyrite that is added to silver and in effect called Marcasite. Unfortunately, Marcasite is much too brittle for ornamental jewelry and is sometimes so brittle it will turn into powder.
The colors, shapes, and sizes of Pyrite
Pyrite is a wonderful mineral that is extremely interesting to possess. It is mostly found in large quantities, usually in cubic crystal forms. While Pyrite is a wonderful mineral to own just as it is, it is not that practical solely as ornamental jewelry.
Pyrite is a polymorph of Marcasite. Polymorph means that a mineral shares the same chemical elements as another mineral, except the structure is very different. This ultimately causes different qualities to emerge. For instance, Marcasite is a very brittle mineral that sometimes self-destructs into pure dust. It usually smells like rotten eggs, from the sulfur and is very rarely used if ever as jewelry. The Marcasite that you might be familiar with in silver is actually mistaken as Pyrite. Pyrite is also seen in inclusions in the beautiful blue stone Lapis Lazuli and the more Pyrite included, usually the more valuable the stone.
Pyrite comes in many sizes; however, it doesn’t come in huge masses as other types of iron-based minerals. Pyrite is interesting in that it forms crystals that are sometimes cubist in form. For mineral collectors, Pyrite is extremely interesting to own and adore.
While not practical as ornamental jewelry, Pyrite does add an extra sparkle or fire to other minerals in the form of small inclusions.