Because of its similarities to gold, the sulfide mineral iron pyrite, commonly known as fool's gold, has earned a name for itself throughout history.
Many prospectors have been duped into thinking they've found the real thing by its brass-yellow color.
Fool's gold got its name because of its misleading appearance. However, as science has developed over time, they have discovered a variety of purposes for pyrite, even if it is still less valuable than the real thing.
In the United States, fool's gold was frequently found during the 1840s gold rush.
Many new miners thought they had uncovered the motherlode when they found a deposit of iron pyrite.
Aside from similarities in appearance to gold, pyrite has many uses. Let's take a closer look at some of these, and how to tell the difference between real gold and fool's gold in the next section.
Before we make a comparison, it is a good idea to understand a few properties that make pyrite known as fool's gold.
Molybdenite and arsenopyrite are two mineral variants of pyrite; however, iron pyrite is the only one that is known as fool's gold.
Iron disulfide, which has the chemical formula FeS2, is the most common sulfide substance on Earth.
Pyrite is sometimes referred to as "fool's gold" because, to the untrained eye, it seems to have a gold nugget's color.
Pyrite nodules have been discovered in historic burial mounds, indicating that they were formerly used to start fires. Prior to the invention of the flintlock, wheel-lock guns were in use. In these weapons, a spring-driven serrated wheel revolved against a piece of pyrite.
When exposed to the surface of the Earth, iron pyrite is quite reactive. The sulfates in the environment react with air and water to form sulfuric acid. In Pyrite mines, this can result in acid rock drainage, and the material needs to be carefully controlled to prevent harmful leaks into the surrounding environment.
Pyrite can be dug up all over the world and can be found in a wide range of environments. For instance, it can be created by stalactitic development, hydrothermal solutions, and magmatic (molten rock) segregation. It can also be found as an accessory mineral in sedimentary rocks including shale, coal, and limestone as well as in vein deposits with quartz and sulfide minerals in igneous rocks.
You can usually tell the difference between real gold and fool's gold. By holding even a small piece of either metal in your hand, you will feel a significant difference in weight since gold is much denser than pyrite.
Such non-destructive tests are excellent techniques to determine whether you have actually found gold without damaging it.
Testing the metal's softness or malleability is another straightforward, but more destructive method of determining whether you have fool's gold or true gold.
Pyrite (aka Fools Gold) is not mined in the same way that gold is, nor is it sold in particular weights such as gold bullion.
Although of much lower value than gold, pyrite does have a number of properties that make it useful.
The name pyrite is derived from the Greek word meaning, "of fire" or "in the fire." Pyrite is classified with a number of rocks that produce sparks when struck with steel. This ties into pyrite's first major use; as a source of ignition in early wheel-lock firearms.
Today, pyrite is used for a number of technologies, including lithium batteries and crystal radios.
It has been suggested that pyrite could be used for photovoltaic cells in solar panels, thanks to its abundance and lower cost.
With the increase in solar energy, pyrite could see a growth in demand if its use was deemed viable.
Pyrite is often purchased in crystal forms. The cubic formation of pyrite, which is highly unusual and attractive to the eye, is only one example of how pyrite can take on intriguing aesthetic uses.
Although pyrite is very inexpensive as previously mentioned, it can contain actual gold. Given the high price of gold, even a small quantity can significantly raise the value of pyrite if removed. In fact, Geology research has discovered that pyrite can contain trace quantities of gold that have been trapped inside of it. This finding could also contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of gold inside other minerals, which might result in more ecologically friendly approaches to gold extraction.
We hope that this article has been helpful to you in determining the value of pyrite. And if you think you've found something of value while digging around in the backyard, we wish you the best of luck!