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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Pyrite

Photograph of pyrite stacked cubes (NMNH R18657) from the National Mineral Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH R18657-00
Locality La Rioja, Spain

Pyrite is an iron sulfide with a metallic luster and a brassy yellow color that can be mistaken for gold. Typically called “fool’s gold,” it is a very common mineral associated with other ore minerals. It is, however, easily distinguishable from gold as it is harder and resists scratching, and it is lighter in heft. Pyrite can form as cubes (as seen here) and octahedron or pyritohedron. Pyrite’s interesting crystal habits make it a popular collector’s mineral.

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