We've all heard of "Fool's Gold", but how many of us know this plentiful mineral by its real name: pyrite? A shiny, brassy yellow mineral, pyrite is a favorite among rock collectors. Interestingly, during WWII pyrite was used as a strategic chemical when sulfur supplies ran low.
The name 'pyrite' is derived from the Greek word 'pyr' which means fire and pyrite translates as 'of fire' or 'a gemstone that strikes fire.' The golden color of this mineral conjures up images of jumping, vibrant flames. To this very day, it is used as a mineral detector in crystal radio hobbyists. One form of pyrite, marcasite, has been used in jewelry design for many years, and was especially popular during Queen Victoria's reign.
Perhaps that explains pyrite's rise in popularity today. Its metallic, glistening appearance, often streaked with greenish-black, creates a dramatic presentation at a very affordable price. Low cost, high-voltage and impactful, pyrite seems ideal for the 21st century consumer. Pyrite seems to strike the right note.
Today, pyrite is used mostly in costume jewelry and beads. Its softness renders it ideal for being faceted, or carved into floral shapes, such as roses, or even formed into polished cabochons. On some occasions, chunks of pyrite crystals are used in jewelry without being faceted to an astonishing effect.
Lore and legend abound concerning pyrite. Used by the ancient Greeks in earrings, amulets and pins, it was also used by Native Americans who would polish large chunks of pyrite and use them as mirrors. Crystal healers referred to pyrite as 'healer's gold' and used this highly regarded mineral as a gemstone of intellectualism and protection. Pyrite is mainly found in Austria, Russia, China, Mexico, Spain, South Africa and Romania.
PYRITE: The appeal is now starting to grow for pyrite jewelry as it conveys a sense of upscale opulence combined with trendy, contemporary tones. And let's not forget marcasite!