An iron sulfide mineral, Pyrite is commonly found around the world in a variety of geological formations, from sedimentary deposits to hydrothermal veins, and as a constituent of metamorphic rocks. It forms in masses, stalactites, grains, globes, striated cubes or twelve-sided pentagonal dodecahedral crystals. It also forms as flat, radial disks called “suns” or “dollars.” It is usually pale brassy-yellow in color, opaque, with a strong gold-like metallic luster, though some forms oxidize in moist environments and may be a darker brownish-gold. The name Pyrite derives from the Greek pyr or pyros, meaning “fire” for its ability to emit sparks when pieces are struck together or against a hard surface.
Pyrite was highly prized by the native Indian tribes of the Americas as a healing stone of magic, and was polished into mirrors for gazing and divination. Before the 1800’s, it was favored as a decorative stone, carved into rosettes, shoe buckles, rings, snuff boxes and other ornaments, and was extremely popular in England during the Victorian Age for its use in jewelry. Pyrite’s biggest use occurred during World War II when it was mined as a source of Sulfur for producing sulfuric acid used in industry.