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Pyrite facts for kids

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Category Sulphide mineral
(repeating unit)
iron disulfide (FeS2)
Color Pale brass-yellow, tarnishes darker and iridescent
Crystal habit Cubic
Crystal system Isometric Diploidal, Space group Pa3
Mohs scale hardness 6–6.5
Luster Metallic, glistening
Streak Greenish-black to brownish-black; smells of sulphur
Specific gravity 4.95–5.10
Solubility Insoluble in water
Other characteristics paramagnetic

The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic lustre and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow colour have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold. The term pyrite may also be used for some other sulphides such as copper sulphide.


Pyrite is the most common of the sulphide minerals. In ancient Roman times, this name was applied to several types of stone that would create sparks when struck against steel; Pliny the Elder described one of them as being brassy, almost certainly a reference to what we now call pyrite. By Georgius Agricola's time, the term had become a generic term for all of the sulphide minerals.

Pyrite is usually found associated with other sulphides or oxides in quartz veins, sedimentary rock, and metamorphic rock, as well as in coal beds, and as a replacement mineral in fossils. Despite being nicknamed fool's gold, pyrite is sometimes found in association with small quantities of gold.

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