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Pyrite vs. Chalcopyrite: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 6, 2024
Pyrite is iron sulfide with gold-like appearance; Chalcopyrite is copper iron sulfide, resembling brass.

Key Differences

Pyrite, commonly known as fool's gold, is an iron sulfide mineral with a metallic luster and a pale brass-yellow hue. Chalcopyrite is a copper iron sulfide mineral, often found with a more golden-yellow hue, resembling brass.
Pyrite forms in various geological environments and is known for its cubic crystal structure. Chalcopyrite typically forms in hydrothermal veins, characterized by a tetragonal crystal system.
The composition of pyrite is FeS2, indicating a higher iron content and lower density compared to chalcopyrite, which has a chemical formula of CuFeS2, containing copper.
In terms of hardness, pyrite scores around 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale, whereas chalcopyrite is softer, with a hardness of about 3.5-4.
Pyrite is famous for its resemblance to gold, leading to its nickname, while chalcopyrite is a major ore of copper, widely used in various industrial applications.

Comparison Chart


Gold-like, pale brass-yellow
Brass-like, golden-yellow

Crystal Structure


Chemical Composition

Iron sulfide (FeS2)
Copper iron sulfide (CuFeS2)

Hardness (Mohs Scale)


Primary Use

Collectors' mineral, limited industrial use
Major ore of copper

Pyrite and Chalcopyrite Definitions


A naturally occurring mineral known as fool's gold.
Pyrite cubes are popular among mineral collectors.


Mineral with lower hardness than pyrite.
Chalcopyrite can be scratched more easily than pyrite.


Iron sulfide mineral with a gold-like appearance.
Pyrite is often mistaken for gold due to its metallic luster.


A copper iron sulfide mineral resembling brass.
Chalcopyrite is the most important ore of copper.


A pale brass-yellow mineral with a high iron content.
Pyrite can form in well-defined crystals or amorphous masses.


Golden-yellow mineral with a tetragonal crystal system.
Chalcopyrite crystals are commonly found in hydrothermal veins.


Mineral with metallic luster and cubic crystal form.
Pyrite is often found in sedimentary rocks.


CuFeS2 mineral used extensively in copper mining.
Chalcopyrite is a key mineral in the copper extraction process.


FeS2 mineral used in some industrial processes.
Pyrite was historically used to produce sulfuric acid.


Brass-like mineral, important for industrial copper use.
Chalcopyrite is often associated with other sulfide minerals.


A brass-colored mineral, FeS2, occurring widely and used as an iron ore and in producing sulfur dioxide for sulfuric acid. Also called fool's gold, iron pyrites.


A yellow mineral, essentially CuFeS2, that is an important ore of copper. Also called copper pyrites.


(mineral) The common mineral iron disulfide (FeS2), of a pale brass-yellow color and brilliant metallic luster, crystallizing in the isometric system.


(mineral) A yellow mineral that is a mixed sulfide of copper and iron, with the chemical formula CuFeS2.


(usually as a plural: pyrites) Any metallic-looking sulphide, such as the above, which is the most common.


Copper pyrites, or yellow copper ore; a common ore of copper, containing copper, iron, and sulphur. It occurs massive and in tetragonal crystals of a bright brass yellow color.


(usually as a plural: pyrites) Any metal dichalcogenide that is isostructural to the common mineral.
Copper diselenide can occur both as a marcasite and a pyrite.


A yellow copper ore (CuFeS2) made up of copper-iron sulfide


A common mineral of a pale brass-yellow color and brilliant metallic luster, crystallizing in the isometric system; iron pyrites; iron disulphide.
Hence sable coal his massy couch extends,And stars of gold the sparkling pyrite blends.


A common mineral (iron disulfide) that has a pale yellow color


Is chalcopyrite used in jewelry?

Rarely, as it tarnishes easily and is softer than ideal for jewelry.

What is chalcopyrite?

A copper iron sulfide mineral and a major source of copper.

What is pyrite?

An iron sulfide mineral known as fool's gold.

What industrial uses does chalcopyrite have?

Primarily in copper production and extraction.

Can pyrite be used to make sulfuric acid?

Historically, it was used for this purpose.

Where is pyrite commonly found?

In sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks.

How can you distinguish pyrite from gold?

Pyrite is harder and more brittle than gold.

Is chalcopyrite magnetic?

No, it is not magnetic.

Can chalcopyrite form large crystals?

Yes, though they are less common than smaller crystals.

Does pyrite have any crystal healing properties?

While not scientifically proven, some believe in its protective qualities.

What colors can chalcopyrite display?

Primarily brass-yellow, but it can also show iridescent colors.

Are there health risks associated with pyrite?

Inhaling pyrite dust can cause lung issues; it's also acidic when wet.

How is chalcopyrite processed for copper extraction?

Through crushing, grinding, and flotation processes.

Is pyrite used in any modern industrial applications?

It's used in small amounts in lithium batteries and solar panels.

What is the streak color of pyrite?

Greenish-black or brownish-black.

Is pyrite found in quartz veins?

Yes, it's often found in quartz veins and other hydrothermal deposits.

Can pyrite be found in coal?

Yes, it's a common mineral in coal beds.

How does weathering affect chalcopyrite?

It can tarnish, turning a greenish or black color.

Is chalcopyrite a rare mineral?

No, it's relatively abundant and the most important source of copper.

Does chalcopyrite have any gemstone uses?

It's not commonly used as a gemstone due to its softness and tarnishing.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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