Testing the Authenticity of Pyrite

Testing the Authenticity of Pyrite: A Quick and Easy Guide

In the booming crystal jewelry market and rising popularity of abundance Crystals such as Pyrite, Citrine, tourmaline it is getting harder to recognize the genuine crystals from the fakes which are sold at much cheaper rate. As a crystal lover its important to research a bit on how to spot fakes.

Look no further when buying the most popular wealth stone ‘Pyrite’ and be sure to get your hands on the real fool’s gold. 

Significance of Pyrite

Natural pyrite crystal, also known as “fool’s gold,” is a popular mineral due to its metallic sheen and golden color. Fool’s gold pyrite was prized in many ancient civilizations as it represents masculine energy, a symbol of wealth and prosperity. This valuable mineral also holds a special place among Crystal Enthusiasts for its energetic properties and healing properties.

Raw Pyrite has significance not just in the field of geology, but also in various industries. Finding pyrite in its original cube-like formation is considered significant in the practice of Feng Shui, as it is believed to bring in positive energy and abundance

Incorporating pyrite crystals as decorative stone into the home can create a visually appealing and energetically positive environment, making them a valuable addition to any living space.

Why is Fake Pyrite so common?

Fake pyrite is becoming more common due to the rising popularity of gold pyrite and its resemblance to real gold. The use of iridescent pyrite in jewelry and in home decor has increased, leading to a higher demand for the mineral. This, in turn, has made fake pyrite more appealing as a cheaper alternative to crystal jewelry makers.

Advancements in technology have also contributed to the increased prevalence of fake pyrite. With improved manufacturing techniques, it has become easier to create convincing fakes that closely resemble the real mineral. These fakes can be produced in larger quantities and at a lower cost for the crystal jewelry market.

By gaining knowledge about natural pyrite and the reasons behind the prevalence of fakes, people can make informed decisions when purchasing or working with this mineral.

Difference between Natural Pyrite and Fakes

Pyrite is a popular mineral that is admired for its metallic luster and brassy yellow color. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, genuine pyrite possesses various physical properties that make it a fascinating material to study. From its hardness and crystal structure to gravity of pyrite and streak color, understanding the physical characteristics of pyrite can provide valuable insights into its formation and practical applications. 

Appearance and color

Genuine Pyrite specimens typically exhibit a consistent, metallic brass-yellow color with a distinct bright shine. The color can vary slightly from piece to piece, with some showing a deeper golden hue and others a lighter yellow tone. Additionally, natural variations and imperfections such as small cracks or irregularities may be present, adding to the authenticity and uniqueness of the specimen.

Real pyrite should have a uniform and even coloration throughout the specimen, with no obvious patches of discoloration or areas that appear significantly different from the rest. This color uniformity and evenness is a key indicator of the specimen’s authenticity.

Fake pyrite, often made from materials like resin, may have a more uniform, dull yellow color without the distinct brassy hues of genuine pyrite. It might also lack the sharp edges and angular shapes of real pyrite, appearing more rounded or irregular in form. In terms of texture, fake pyrite may feel smoother and more polished, lacking the rough, uneven surface of genuine pyrite.

Crystal structure

Natural Pyrite has isometric crystals in cubic and pyritohedron forms. The pyritohedron form is characterized by twelve pentagonal faces that give the crystal a dodecahedral appearance. 

Fakes lack the sharp edges and angular shapes of real pyrite, appearing more rounded or irregular in form. In terms of texture, fake pyrite may feel smoother and more polished, lacking the rough, uneven surface of genuine pyrite.

Hardness and density

Real pyrite is relatively hard and should not be scratched by a copper penny or pin. When Pyrite is scratched against a hard surface, it leaves a greenish-black streak known as “pyrite streak”. If the pyrite scratches easily, it is likely fake.

Real pyrite will have a lower density compared to substances like copper. Pyrite has a lower density than copper, so it should feel lighter in your hands. If you have a known sample of copper, you can compare the weight directly. Another method is to check gravity of pyrite by comparing it to the weight of water by placing the substance in a container of water and seeing if it sinks or floats.

Chemical composition of Natural Pyrite

Pyrite and is composed of a combination of iron and sulfur atoms in a crystalline structure, giving it its characteristic shiny, metallic appearance. Its chemical formula of FeS2 indicates that each unit of pyrite is made up of one iron atom and two sulfur atoms bonded together. 

Fake iridescent pyrite is often made from materials like resin or marcasite and spray painted to give the shiny metallic appearance.

Raw Pyrite inclusions in rocks

Pyrite is the most abundant sulfide mineral found on earth and can be found as an accessory mineral in igneous rocks, quartz veins and other sulfide minerals like hematite, chalcopyrite, and sphalerite, and in sedimentary rocks, such as shale, coal deposits, and limestone.

Pyrite inclusions in rocks can appear in various forms and have different formation processes. They can occur as isolated crystals or as clusters within the host rock, forming during the initial crystallisation of the rock. Identifying formations of pyrite inclusions can be done through their distinctive metallic sheen, brass-yellow color, and their characteristic octahedral or cubic crystal shape.

Common minerals found with pyrite include quartz crystal, chalcopyrite, galena, and arsenopyrite. These minerals are often found alongside pyrite in various geological formations such as hydrothermal veins, sedimentary rocks, and metamorphic rocks.


Fake Pyrite And Lookalikes

When it comes to identifying pyrite lookalikes, it’s important to be aware of the different types and what to look for. There are several crystals that are often passed off as raw pyrite, including marcasite, chalcopyrite, and iron pyrite. Each of these rock types has its own unique characteristics and can be distinguished from genuine pyrite by their color, luster, and crystal structure. 


Chalcopyrite and pyrite are both metallic minerals with some key differences in appearance, color, and hardness. Chalcopyrite typically has a brassy yellow color, whereas pyrite is usually a more golden yellow. Chalcopyrite also tends to have a more iridescent and rainbow-like sheen, while pyrite has a more metallic luster. In terms of hardness, chalcopyrite is soft mineral, with a Mohs hardness of 3.5-4 compared to pyrite’s 6-6.5.

Additionally, chalcopyrite can sometimes have a greenish tint due to the presence of copper, while pyrite does not


Pyrrhotite is an iron sulfide mineral with the chemical composition Fe(x-1)S. It is dense, usually looks brassy, and has a shiny metallic appearance. You can easily tell pyrite and pyrrhotite apart because pyrrhotite is magnetic, softer, and has different shaped crystals.


Marcasite is an iron-based mineral that bears many similarities to pyrite. Although they may have similar chemical compositions and physical appearances, their crystal structures differ significantly. Marcasite and pyrite both have a brittle, brassy, and lustrous appearance. Marcasite is slightly more pale than pyrite, which has led some crystal enthusiasts to refer to it as “white iron pyrite”.

Tests to spot fake Pyrite from Natural Pyrite

Perform the Scratch Test

The hardness score of pyrite crystal on the Moh hardness scale is 6 to 6.5. The hardness level can be determined by conducting a scratch test on a glass. The glass can be easily scratched when in contact with pyrite crystals that have sharp edges. The glass or knife should not cause any scratches on the pyrite due to its low hardness score.

Another way is to scratch it with a copper penny or pin. Hold the penny or pin firmly in your hand and apply pressure to the surface of the pyrite. If the pyrite scratches easily, it is likely fake.

Perform the Smell Test

The easiest and quickest way to tell if pyrite is real is to check its odor. Gently rub the pyrite with your hand or any hard object. If the pyrite is genuine, it will emit a sulfurous odor that resembles rotten eggs. The smell is caused by the burning of sulfur compounds in the crystal. When rubbed Pyrite crystal will release some of its sulfide molecules to give the rotten egg smell.

Perform the Streak Test

The streak test can be used to differentiate pyrite from glass and marcasite. A porcelain tile or streak plate is required for this test. A hammer can be used to crush a small piece of crystal into powder. The powder will produce a greenish-black mark on the tile. An alternative method is to rub the crystal on the tile, resulting in a greenish-black streak. Fake pyrite stones do not have pyrite minerals and will produce a white or gray streak when rubbed on porcelain tile. Marcasite leaves a white streak on porcelain tile when rubbed. During the streak test, glass typically produces a transparent to white streak.

Perform the Magnet Test

Examining the magnetic properties of pyrite for authenticity is a straightforward process. All you need is a powerful magnet. Pyrite can exhibit some magnetic properties due to its iron content, although it is not strongly magnetic. If a magnet is attracted to pyrite, it is considered normal. However, if the pyrite adheres strongly to the magnet, indicating a strong attraction, it may not be real.

Perform the Weight Test

There are instances where objects resembling pyrite but made from lighter materials such as plastic or resin are falsely marketed as pyrite. These counterfeit products will not possess the same weight as genuine pyrite.

In Conclusion

It’s easy to fall for fake pyrite, and we don’t blame you. But, you could save yourself all the hassle of having to test whether your crystal is real or not by always shopping from a reputable jewelry brand or Crystal dealer. 

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