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Real vs. Fake Pyrite: Focus on These 7 Differences

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Pyrite is classified as an abundant mineral. Nevertheless, pyrite fakes can occasionally be recognized. Pyrite, in its natural form, is commonly referred to as “fool’s gold” due to its vibrant yellow color and shiny appearance that closely resembles gold. However, pyrite itself can occasionally be falsified.

Pyrite is rarely faked. It’s quite a common mineral and can be safely purchased via online marketing platforms. Fake pyrite can be imitated by dyed epoxy or glue. Sparkling specs of copper can represent fake pyrite in composite turquoise lapis lazuli or dyed quartz geodes.

Surprisingly, molds for crystal druses may be acquired online. In the presence of molds, we must be vigilant in identifying many potential fakes of various minerals. Pyrite is being held at gunpoint. We are here to provide information on recent fake pyrite specimens.

The Main Differences Between Real and Fake Pyrite
The Main Differences Between Real and Fake Pyrite

If you want to check out the best rock and mineral identification books, you can find them here (Amazon link).

How To Tell if Pyrite is Real?

The perfectly angular shapes of natural pyrite crystals never fail to impress. With their cubic, octahedral, or pyritohedral forms – symmetrical as if man-made – it’s no wonder people often mistake them for artificial constructs.

Yet these flawless geometries arise Essential from pyrite’s crystalline structure. It makes one wonder – how can a natural mineral form such mathematical precision? Though pyrite’s facets appear almost too ideal, the diversity of natural shapes shows us many complex variables are at play.

And aside from its appealing appearance, pyrite holds other surprises. Its golden sheen fools prospectors into naming it “fool’s gold.” The hardness, density, and metallic luster further confuse the senses. There is more to this humble iron sulfide than meets the eye. Its endless mysteries and deceptions continue to fascinate scientists and collectors alike.

Real pyrite forms cubes or multifaceted crystals with distinct striations on the facets. Cold and complex, with a Mohs scale hardness of 6-6.5 – greater than glass – pyrite contains 46.67% iron by weight. Its high specific gravity of 4.9-5.2 g/cm3 further degrades its metallic properties.

As an iron sulfide (FeS2), pyrite incorporates 46.67% iron and 53.33% sulfur.

It occurs in a brassy-yellow color, sometimes weathering to duller brass tones. Beyond its color, pyrite’s other most striking features are its extraterrestrial-looking crystalline shapes: cubes, pyritohedrons, octahedrons, and combinations.

Pyrite also develops in massive, radiating, drusy, fibrous clusters. Occasionally, spectacular disk-shaped pyrite “suns” or “miners’ dollars” form in concretions in Illinois.

Formed by both magmatic segregation in (molten rock) and hydrothermal solutions, real pyrite exists as an accessory mineral in many settings: igneous rocks, quartz vein deposits associated with sulfides like hematite, chalcopyrite and sphalerite, and sedimentary formations including shale, coal, and limestone.

What Does Raw Pyrite Look Like?

At first glance, raw pyrite looks like gold – you can see why it tricks so many prospectors! But on closer inspection, you notice the cube-shaped crystals with criss-cross lines on the surfaces.

Weathered pyrite can look dull and rusted if left outside for a long time. But dig a little deeper and you can still uncover nice bright pieces!

Raw pyrite shows up in many shapes. You can find raw pyrite clustered in big chunks or radiating out in lines. It grows in crusty, fuzzy-looking layers or long fibers, too. It also builds perfectly even crystals. Raw pyrite crystals have surprisingly symmetrical forms like cubes, pyritohedrons, and octahedrons.

For years, Spain was the biggest producer of pyrite worldwide. The mines in Navajun, La Rioja, Spain, yield beautiful, shiny clusters with intricate shapes. Sometimes, the cubes and pyramids look so perfect it’s hard to believe nature formed these mathematical shapes!

Nowadays, Italy and China mine the most pyrite globally, with Russia and Peru coming next. But Spanish pyrite remains popular for collectors because of its top-notch, eye-catching quality.

How to Identify Real Pyrite?

Real pyrite has many unique traits that set it apart from other minerals.

Real pyrite is usually identified by its cube-like crystals and the lined patterns on their surfaces. Pyrite also feels heavy and cold when you hold it, thanks to its high density. It’s opaque with a dark green-black colored streak.

Some main features of real pyrite:

  1. Color is brass-yellow
  2. Metallic shine
  3. Opaque
  4. Crystals are symmetrical cubes
  5. Facet lines visible
  6. Heavy for its size
  7. Colds when touched
  8. The streak is greenish black

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

TIP: Pyrite value can vary dramatically depending on the types of samples. Check out the main factors that determine pyrite’s value in the article below:
Pyrite Value: Main Factors & Prices for Different Units

How to Spot Fake Pyrite?

Fake pyrite is easily identifiable since real pyrite has many unique properties, as described before. Let’s add some info about commonly spotted pyrite fakes to help you confidently differentiate real from fake.

Some fake pyrite is made of glittery glue or epoxy resin, which feels warm and glows under UV, unlike real pyrite. Fakes made with copper flakes mixed into minerals will look splintery, not like real pyrite’s isometric crystals.

Sparkly Glue Fakes

Unlike pyrite’s metallic sheen, the first fake type uses sparkly silver or gold glue, usually in small, uneven nodules. These lightweight glue fakes might have a slight rainbow glitter or no sparkle. They glow under black light, while real pyrite does not.

Copper Chip Fakes

Stabilized turquoise and lapis lazuli are sometimes faked with copper chips in epoxy, substituting for real pyrite veins. Unlike pyrite’s faceted crystals, the copper flakes lack shape and have a much lower Mohs hardness of 2.5-3.

Molded Epoxy Fakes

Pyrite jewelry and druses made from molded epoxy resin can be identified by black light, warmth, and softness compared to natural pyrite.

Dyed Quartz Fakes

Golden-dyed quartz geodes also masquerade as pyrite. Quartz has an elongated crystal shape, Unlike pyrite’s isometric cubes. Worn dye and white quartz interior. Give this fakeaway.

Glued Pyrite and Amethyst

Finally, amethyst geodes with glued-on pyrite crystals are not naturally found. And cannot be found in nature. Please see how amethyst geodes form. Zones of glue can also be easily spotted.

Real vs. Fake Pyrite: The Main Differences

Here is a table with the most vital characteristics, which will help you differentiate real pyrite from fake.

Characteristic feature Real pyrite Fake pyrite
OpacityOpaqueOpaque and occasionally semi-translucent
Presence of striations on the facetsPresentAbsent
Form of occurrenceThe presence of striations on the facetsGold-colored flakes of cooper. Massive, without any crystals distinguished.
UV lightInert to UV lightEpoxy and glues can glow under UV light
WeightRelatively heavy Very light
Touch testCold to the touchWarm to the touch
Hardness6 – 6.5 on the Mohs scale. It can’t be scratched off by a knife and glassAll artificial materials (epoxy, resins, glues, plastics) and copper can be marked by a knife or glass.
The Main Differences between Real and Fake Pyrite

TIP: Do you know how to clean your rocks and minerals properly? Check out five simple ideas for cleaning rocks and minerals in the article below:
How to Clean Your Rocks and Minerals: 5 Simple Ideas


Though fakes are rare, pyrite is a common mineral, so imposters exist. Here are the most prevalent pyrite fakes:

  • Glittery silver/gold glue
  • Copper chips in turquoise or lapis lazuli
  • Molded epoxy jewelry
  • Dyed quartz geodes
  • Glued pyrite and amethyst chunks

Focus on these 7 factors to catch pyrite fakes:

  1. Opacity – Real pyrite is fully opaque
  2. Facet Lines – Real pyrite often has visible striations on facets, unlike fakes
  3. Form – Real pyrite forms cubic crystals, while fakes may be massive, flaky, or chipped
  4. UV Reaction – Real pyrite is inert, but epoxy/glue fakes glow
  5. Weight – The real iron sulfide is dense, whereas fakes are light
  6. Touch Test – Real feels cold and fakes warm
  7. Hardness – Fakes fail to match real pyrite’s hardness

TIP: If you want to find pyrite near you in the U.S., know exactly how it forms and in which environments it is best. Find out more in the article below:
Where to Find Pyrite: Best Environments & Locations in USA