Pyrite or iron pyrite is a fascinating mineral which occurs in cubes, clusters and nuggets. It exhibits a metallic lustre and brassy yellow hue which has led to it frequently being mistaken for gold. Although the two do have a very similar appearance it is in fact quite easy to tell one from the other.
This eye-catching mineral occurs worldwide in small quantities within sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. Not only is it popular with children who are fascinated by its similarity to gold but many rock and mineral enthusiasts love having a few carefully selected pieces as part of their collection.
The Rio Tinto mines of Spain produce vast quantities of iron pyrite but Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Japan, Canada, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Greece and Slovakia have also been known to produce fine specimens.
Although pyrite is relatively hard and grades 6 to 6½ on Mohs scale of mineral hardness it's also brittle so will chip or shatter very easily.