Pyrite Meaning and Properties

Pyrite History

This golden-hued gemstone got its name for the Greek word pyr, which means "fire." Pyrite gemstones can be used to create sparks if it is struck against metal or another hard material. In fact, pieces of pyrite have been used in flintlock firearms to help produce the necessary spark. Pyrite gemstones were important to the production of sulfur and sulfuric acid, especially during the World War II era. Long before this use though, pyrite was valued by some Native American peoples as a healing stone. During the Victorian Age, pyrite was a favorite stone for creating carved rosettes, shoe buckles, rings and other decorative elements.

Due to pyrite's gold color, luster and high specific gravity, this gem can be mistaken for gold, hence this famous moniker: fool's gold. Pyrite is also quite similar to another gem called marcasite, however marcasite does not have the same brassy hue.

Pyrite Metaphysical Properties

Pyrite has long been valued as a strong protection stone that shields the wearer from negative energy as well as environmental pollutants. Thus, this stone helps promote physical well-being as well. Stimulating the second and third chakras, pyrite enhances strength of mind and willpower. Pyrite is also sometimes considered to be lucky, attracting wealth and abundance. Though not a birthstone, pyrite is most commonly associated with the zodiac sign of Leo.

Pyrite Geological Properties

Though commonly found in Canada, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, Russia and Spain, pyrite can be found all over the world since it forms in all types of environments. Pyrite is a brassy-colored mineral featuring a metallic luster resembling gold. Pyrite has a chemical composition of iron disulfide (FeS2) and is the most common sulfide. Pyrite forms in some of the most interesting natural structures, including nearly perfect cubes and octahedrons. Another interesting formation is what is known as penetration twinning, where two or more crystals are intergrown. Pyrite deposits can contain small amounts of other minerals or gems such as cobalt, nickel, silver and true gold.

Mineral Information Sulfide
Chemical Composition FeS2
Color Brassy yellow
Hardness 6 to 6-1/2 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 4.9 - 5.2
Refractive Index 1.73 - 1.83

Proper Care of Pyrite

Pyrite gemstones are fairly easy stones to keep clean. Simply use lukewarm soapy water and rinse. A soft cloth can also be used to restore luster, but it is not recommended to use anything that could leave scratches on the somewhat brittle surface of the stone. Do not steam, boil or clean in an ultrasonic machine. If cleaning pyrite jewelry with water, be sure to thoroughly dry any and all metal settings so as to prevent oxidation. Store pyrite stones and jewelry away from other materials to avoid marring the surface of the pyrite or causing scratches on less-hard materials.

To learn more about pyrite and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Pyrite

Pyrite has been used as a much more plentiful and cheap gold or marcasite replacement in jewelry and accessories, but pyrite is fun to design with for its merits, too. The warm, golden sheen is a favorite in men's jewelry for example. This provides a metallic tone that isn't overly shiny while pairing perfectly with black gems such as jet or for added textural intrigue, lava rock. This isn't to say only the men appreciate the understated shine of pyrite as women's jewelry benefits from the subtle gold hue.

View design inspirations featuring pyrite in the Gallery of Designs.

Shop for Pyrite Items

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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