The name Pyrite comes from the Greek word “pyr” meaning “fire,” and was named such because striking it with steel can even cause the sulfur in it to spark!. In early times, this sparkling ability gave man one way of creating fire; in later times, this ability made it popular for use in early firearms devices such as the wheel lock. Pyrite, commonly also known as “Fools Gold” because of its color and shape, is popular for its crystal habit, hardness, streak, luster, and brittleness.
In the old mining days, Pyrite was many times confused with Gold, even though they can be easily distinguished. As it does resemble gold in its physical appearance, that is where the similarities end. Ironically, Gold is often found adjacent to Pyrite deposits, and the only thing foolish about finding “Fool’s Gold” would be in not searching nearby! It is sometimes a bit sad that this beautiful and fascination mineral has a nickname like “Fool’s Gold”. It is also known as ‘Healers Gold’.
Pyrite was polished by the Native North, Central and South Tribes and cultures in the early times and used as mirrors.
On the physical level, Pyrite can be used in the treatment and healing of all bone and cell diseases. A good protection against flu and the common cold. If you are a caregiver use the energies of pyrite to protect you from any harmful disease and germs associated with your work.
Pyrite is another highly protective stone, blocking or shielding you from negative energies from people, places, and things. Some like to use Pyrite to stimulate the intellect, recalling information when you need it the most. Good for those of us who can be forgetful. Stone of protection. Wards off negative energy and physical danger.
Pyrite is usually considered to be a stone which can spark creative thinking to one who uses it and opens his/her to new ideas. Iron pyrite is believed to be a very protective stone. It should be carried when performing dangerous work. It stimulates the powers of the intellect. Sunflower pyrite, a variety of pyrite, is said to be a shielding stone. It protects one from any negative energy. It protects the physical, emotional, and etheric levels.
It can help you tap your own latent mental talents and abilities. Pyrite is a powerful protection stone and is very grounding.
Pyrite helps one to communicate more openly and honestly, providing both emotional and physical protection. If you are indecisive, or unsure about something, carry a pyrite with you as a touchstone to help boost your self-confidence. The reflective qualities of the stone make it a wonderful meditation or divination tool.
Pyrite increases physical stamina, stimulates the intellect and helps to transform thought into intelligent action. It is a wonderful stone for use in wealth magic or assisting in the manifestation of needed energies. An excellent shield-stone, pyrite removes negativity from the aura to help one concentrate.
Cultures in ancient Mexico made scrying mirrors out of pyrite; they were created by polishing one side flat, to use for scrying, while the rounded side was carved with mystical symbols to assist in the scrying process. Cultures around the world cared amulets for protection and magic from pyrite, it was even one of the first healing stones to be used in a Shaman’s bag.
The Mayans, Aztecs and Incas, at one time, all were known to polish large slabs of Pyrite to a mirror-like finish which they used for this very purpose. Native Americans believed they could look into one’s very soul when peering into a polished piece of Pyrite. Their shamans used it as “a stone of power,” and their medicine men used it in certain healing rituals. Pyrite has also been labeled the “Healer’s Stone”. The Inca’s used it quite extensively throughout their culture.
The ancient Chinese viewed the earth as a golden cube, a vision well emulated by Pyrite. They also believed that Pyrite would guard against crocodile attacks.
Pyrite is thought to create a better balance and flow between the right and left brain function. This helps transform the intuitive and creative (right brain) thought into logical and well-reasoned (left brain) action.
These metallic crystals are often used to attract money and good fortune. It is also widely used to protect against infections and viral attacks and to help one attain a more ideal state of health.
Edgar Cayce recommended that “to carry a piece of Carbon Steel in one’s pocket (preferably a groin pocket) would inhibit one from catching a cold or infection”. Carbon Steel is a mixture of Iron and Carbon, to which Pyrite is similar and claims the same health benefit.
The ancient Greeks used polished Pyrite in various types of jewelry and amulets. During the Victorian Age in England, jewelry made with Pyrite was extremely popular.
Pyrite found its name from the Greek word pyr, which means ‘fire’, the French call it Pierre de Sante, meaning “stone of health” as they say it positively effects the body’s health.
The resemblance of pyrite to gold has made it a traditional symbol for money and good luck. It’s sunny golden color associates it with the sun, and with fortification and strengthening of the mind. The name comes from the Greek word meaning “a stone which strikes fire”. Pyrite is easily distinguished from Gold; Pyrite being lighter in color and much harder, whereas it cannot be scratched with a fingernail or knife as Gold can be. Pyrite cannot be bent or shaped like gold. But even though Pyrite is a fairly hard mineral, its crystals are known to break and crumble, as it is brittle.
CRYSTALLOGRAPHY: Isometric, Cubic; bar 3 2/m
REFRACTIVE INDEX: Opaque; The refractive index is very high and over the limits of a refractometer.
HARDNESS: 6 – 6.5
SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 4.95–5.10 (heavier than average for metallic minerals)
CLEAVAGE: Very indistinct
CRYSTAL HABITS: Include the cube, octahedron, and pyritohedron (a dodecahedron with pentagonal faces) and crystals with combinations of these forms. Good interpenetration twins called iron crosses are rare. Pyrite is commonly found in nodules. A flattened nodular variety called “Pyrite Suns” or “Pyrite Dollars” is popular in rock shops. Also massive or reniform and replaces other minerals and fossils forming pseudomorphs or copies. Found predominately in cubes, pyritohedron, sometimes octahedral and more rarely, distorted octahedral crystals. It is also seen in the drusy formation and often as inclusions inside quartz.
STREAK: Greenish black.
OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Brittle, striations on cubic faces caused by the crossing of pyritohedron with the cube. (note – striations on cube faces also demonstrate pyrite’s lower symmetry). Pyrite (unlike gold) is not malleable.
ASSOCIATED MINERALS: quartz, calcite, gold, sphalerite, galena, fluorite and many other minerals.(Pyrite is so common it may be quicker to name the unassociated minerals.)
BEST FIELD INDICATORS: Crystal habit, hardness, streak, luster, and brittleness.
HEAT SENSITIVE: No
WEARABILITY*: Very Good
SPECIAL CARE INSTRUCTIONS: None
Pyrite occurs as cubes or as “pyritohedra”, which have twelve faces, and each of those faces having five edges. It has been used in the jewelry industry for thousands of years, as specimens have been found in the ancient civilizations of the Greeks, Romans and the Incas. Today it is most often used for costume jewelry, but being as brittle and fragile as it is, it requires very careful cutting.
Peacock pyrite, peacock copper peacock rock, are all the same stone, pyrite with metallic peacock coloring flashing all over it.
Found in Peru, Germany, Spain, Russia, South Africa Bolivia, Italy, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Missouri in the USA. Iron Pyrite is a very abundant mineral found world wide.
Pyrite is usually found associated with other sulfides or oxides in quartz veins, sedimentary rock, and metamorphic rock, as well as in coal beds, and as a replacement mineral in fossils. Despite being nicknamed fool’s gold, small quantities of gold are sometimes found associated with pyrite. Gold and arsenic occur as a coupled substitution in the pyrite structure. In the Carlin, Nevada gold deposit, arsenian pyrite contains up to 0.37 wt% gold. Auriferous pyrite is a valuable ore of gold.
Pyrite occurs in many interesting shapes. It occurs in masses of very small Pyritohedrons or cubes, which creates a glistening effect when rotated in the light. It also occurs in large Cubes, either singular or intergrown, with striated faces. Most cubes are irregularly shaped; mostly elongated.
Mineralogists now believe that they are pyrite crystals formed between layers of slate and coal that simply had no room to grow in the traditional cubes that one normally finds pyrite. Formed 350 million years ago deep in the coal mines of Illinois, USA, each is unique! Pyrite is actually disulfide of iron, and the metallic crystal grows in cubes, nodules, masses of tiny crystals, and can even be found as flat discs.
Extremely common in the Earth’s crust and found in almost every possible geological environment including sedimentary, metamorphic, magmatic and hydrothermal deposits, Pyrite’s usual crystal forms are cubic, octahedron and pyritohedron – the latter being a dodecahedron with 5-sided pentagon faces. When a cube and pyritohedron crystal combine, the face of the cube may appear striated (grooved with lines or ridges). Many times Pyrite will be found in combinations of all these forms, but may also occur in masses, globular, radiating or reniform. Pyrite is also commonly found as small nodules. A flat variety of this nodular form, appropriately called “Pyrite Suns” or “Pyrite Dollars”, are popular with collectors.
During the early years of the 20th century, pyrite was used as a mineral detector in radio receivers, and to this day is so used by ‘crystal radio’ hobbyists. Until the vacuum tube matured, the crystal detector was the most sensitive and dependable detector available- with considerable variation between mineral types and even individual samples within a particular type of mineral. The most sensitive mineral was galena, which was very sensitive also to mechanical vibration, and easily knocked off the sensitive point; the most stable were perikon mineral pairs; and midway between was the pyrites detector, which is approximately as sensitive as a modern 1N34A diode detector.
Today, it is used as an ornamental stone, as well as a very popular stone for the amateur collector. It is sometimes used as a gemstone by being faceted and polished for use as a side jewel in a ring, necklace, or bracelet. Pyrite is many times wrongly called “Marcasite” in the gem trade. Although the mineral Marcasite has the same composition as Pyrite, it is a different mineral. Marcasite is not suitable for gem use because it powders and may disintegrate into a powder.
Pyrite has been proposed as an abundant inexpensive material in low cost photovoltaic solar panels.