Fool’s Gold!! There are quite a few minerals that have shiny or brassy appearances, but Pyrite (also known as Fool’s Gold) is the one that is most commonly mistaken for real Gold. Pyrite comes in many different varieties and has many different appearances; this is because it is a very common mineral in the Earth’s crust, so much so that it can be found in almost any environment.
Even though Fool’s Gold is extremely common, it is interestingly enough still very popular among rock collectors. This could be because Gold adoration throughout the world’s history has led some rock collectors be drawn to anything with the appearance of Gold, even if they know it isn’t real. Because Fool’s Gold is essentially worthless, it is probably best suited as a souvenir or an object with some kind of sentimental value.
One of the biggest reasons why Pyrite is frequently mistaken for real Gold is that, besides being similar in appearance, they are also often found in close proximity to one another. Actually, if you know what to look for it can be quite easy to tell the two apart: Pyrite is much lighter in color, less dense, and harder than Gold. In fact, pure Gold can be scratched easily with a knife or even with a fingernail.
If you think you may have found a piece of real Gold, there are a few easy ways to tell whether it is actually Pyrite:
• First, try smelling the rock. This may seem like an unusual thing to do, but you may be surprised by what you find. Pyrite is comprised of a large amount of sulfur and will give off a smell that is similar to rotten eggs.
• Gold and pyrite both have an intense metallic luster, but they are very different shades of yellow. Gold appears more gold to silvery and will never tarnish, while pyrite is a pale to medium brassy yellow that may be tarnished.
• Gold is often found in the form of nuggets or very small flakes, with small cubic crystals being very rare. Pyrite on the other hand is commonly found in the form of small cubes and octahedrons. Essentially, if you are holding Gold with a lot of pointy edges, there is a good chance it is actually Pyrite.
• Finally, try holding the specimen up to the sun and see if it refracts the light, appearing very glittery. If it does, there is a very good chance that it is Fool’s Gold.
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