A Brief – and Useful – History of Fool’s Gold

You’ve probably heard the term “fool’s gold.”  But what is it? Since we’re gold refiners, we can offer this explanation . . .

Why Is It Called Fool’s Gold?

Shown: Fools Gold (pyrite), which, unlike real gold-bearing scrap, can not be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

Shown: Fools Gold (pyrite), which, unlike real gold-bearing scrap, can not be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

It got that name because it fools people. Wherever prospectors have searched for gold through the centuries, some of them have also found quantities of fool’s gold, a shiny mineral that is often found near gold in mineral deposits, but which is worth far less. According to legend, some of those prospectors “foolishly” believed they had found gold and struck it rich. 

What Is It Exactly?

It is really called pyrite. Unlike gold, which is an element, pyrite is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. It’s found in coal beds, quartz veins, and sedimentary rock. It has also been found as a replacement mineral in various fossils. In other words, it has flowed in to fill the cavities in snails, shells, and other ancient fossils. Some pyrite-filled fossils can be quite beautiful.

What Can Pyrite Be Used For?

It is used as commercial source of sulphur dioxide, which is used in paper manufacturing and other industries. It has also been used to make iron sulfate, and in the manufacturing of rechargeable lithium batteries. In earlier times, it was used as a “flint” to produce sparks in guns and cannons; when it is struck against steel, sparks fly.

Can It Be Used to Make Fake Gold Jewelry?

No, it cannot. It is not malleable enough to be formed into jewelry. Also, it is not chemically stable and would degrade quickly if allowed to remain in contact with the human skin. However – and interestingly – pyrite has been extensively used to form the small, shiny jewels in marcasite jewelry, which was quite popular in Victorian times.

Can You Still be Fooled by Fool’s Gold Today?

Maybe you could be if you happen to find some while you are hiking in an area where there are a lot of mineral deposits. But could you be fooled by a quantity of fool’s gold that you have on hand among your recyclable precious metals? The chances of that are very slim, since pyrite can’t be used in cellphones, microprocessors, or the many other applications where real gold has found so many uses today.

Don’t Be Foolish and Ignore the Real Gold Hiding in Your Scrap

You may be sitting on a treasure trove of real gold at this very moment, in gold-bearing scrap like used computer circuit boards, sputtering targets, eyeglass frames and more. As one of America’s best gold refiners, Specialty Metals can recycle your gold-bearing scrap and turn it into real gold – and real profits – for your company. Contact us at 800-426-2344 to learn more today.

Related Posts

The Confusing – and Very Profitable – World of Gold Alloys
Some Fascinating – and Potentially Profitable – Facts You Never Knew about Refining Gold
Gold Refining: Why It Takes an Expert to Evaluate Your Gold-Plated Items
How to Pick the Best Precious Metals Recycling Company
3 Simple Steps: How to Find the Best Gold Refiner