Elon Musk is one of the coolest people on earth. He cares about humanity and our planet so much that he invested his millions (now billions) into making our world a better place. Tesla and SpaceX are just two of his successful companies. Tesla is the world’s best selling electric vehicle and SpaceX just recently put American astronauts back into space.
I started following him in 2018 during the time my then-husband decided to leave me (literally broke and homeless). Elon kindly shared a post I’d written to him which was linked to my jewelry website–and the jewelry sales literally saved me. I believe his support of my writing is also how I landed my current writing job with CleanTechnica and I am ever so grateful for that.
So let’s talk minerals.
In 2018, I randomly asked him what his favorite mineral was. Elon replied, “Iron Pyrite”
Iron pyrite— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 17, 2018
What Is Pyrite?
Iron Pyrite is also known as fools gold but is actually an important ore of gold since both grow together. Some pyrite actually has 0.25% of gold by weight or more. You can read more of that on Geology.com. If you happen to have some with gold in it, I recommend you check out this article if you want to separate it.
Pyrite is bright, shiny, and in your face, but many people don’t know much more than that. It’s actually a mix of iron and sulfur (although it doesn’t have that lovely smell).
Pyrite occurs in many shapes but is well known for its cubes. It even has the exact chemical formula of Marcasite, which is a rarer mineral, but what sets it apart is its crystal system which makes it a different mineral.
Pyrite gets its name from the Greek word, Pyr, which means fire. It was named that because it has been used to create that spark to start a fire. In the ancient Roman times, Pyrite was a name given to many types of minerals that could create sparks when struck against steel. Pliny the Elder once called these stones brassy, which is an apt description of Pyrite. Also, brass, before it tarnishes, looks exactly like gold.
How Pyrite Is Formed
Pyrite forms under varied conditions. Sometimes it is produced by magmatic segregation. Another way it is formed is through hydrothermal solutions or stalactic growth. It sometimes occurs with other minerals, in vein deposits with quartz or even in sedimentary rocks such as coal. A great example of this is the rare Pyrite Suns that are only found in Illinois.
Pyrite Suns look like sand dollars. Some say it’s a fossil, some say it’s not. The only mine, I know of, where these come from is Sparta, IL, and is currently closed. Here is mine that I picked up from a gem show in Baton Rouge.
Pyrite Suns are also called Miner’s Dollars. They are around 300 million years old. They are found only in one place in the world: Illinois.
Found 200-250 feet below ground in coal mines that extract the Herrin coal. These disks are found mere inches above the coal seam in a type of marine shale called the Anna Shale.
Pyrite Under 30x Magnification.
As I was updating this post, my brand new Triplet jeweler’s loupe came in and I took a couple of shots of one of my specimens.
I recently just became a member of the International Gem Society and am taking their mini gemology courses and plan to take the $400 class once I get all of the tools of the trade purchase.
This requires setting up a lab in my home and gemology is something I would love to learn to enhance my own knowledge as well as add value to my work.
I applied for a GIA scholarship back in March, but I didn’t get it. At first, I was bummed, but I think it’s for the best. This gives me a chance to take my time and learn with IGS then work my way up to a GIA certification.