What Is Fool’s Gold?
Many prospectors have found what seemed to be gold, but instead turned out to be a bright yellow mineral called “iron pyrite.” Looking very much like real gold, iron pyrite fooled so many people that the mineral got its nickname “fool’s gold.”
In the old mining days, Pyrite was sometimes mistaken for Gold, as they frequently occur together. Iron pyrite is found in many places. Pyrite is a mineral composed of iron sulfide.
This mineral forms a cubic structure and has a brassy, golden metallic color that makes it look just like gold. It is harder than gold, and will emit sparks when struck by steel.
Real gold is much more difficult to find, and it usually doesn’t sparkle as brightly as iron pyrite. If you happen to find a bit of fool’s gold, don’t throw it away. Maybe you can fool your friends!
Pyrite occurs in numerous shapes. The smaller crystal aggregates may give off a beautiful glistening effect in light, and the larger crystals may be perfectly formed, including fascinating cubes, penetration twins, and other interesting crystal forms.
The perfect cubes of Pyrite embedded in a matrix from the famous Spanish mines are especially treasured among collectors. Many of these specimens have fallen out of the matrix and have been repaired by having them glued back into the matrix.
Pyrite has the same chemical formula as the rarer mineral Marcasite, but it crystallizes in a different crystal system, thereby classifying it as a separate mineral species.