Pyrrhotite Gemstone: Properties, Meanings, Value & More

pyrrhotite gemstonePyrrhotite [pronounced pir-uh-tahyt] is a bronze to brassy iron sulfide gemstone with a metallic luster. It’s also the magnetic cousin of “fool’s gold”. In fact, it’s nicknamed “magnetic pyrite” because they’re so similar in color! 

Are you a fan of the cosmos? Pyrrhotite is a variant of another rare (and non-magnetic) mineral known as troilite, commonly seen in meteorites.

The pyrrhotite crystal meaning is one of tension relief, stability, and restoration. So if you’re into meditation and lifting vibrations, pyrrhotite is an excellent crystal to work with.

Where is pyrrhotite found? What does it mean, and how can you score your own? To answer these questions and more, continue reading as we break down everything there is to know about pyrrhotite in our Pyrrhotite Gemstone Guide.

pyrrhotite gemstone

Pyrrhotite Meaning & History 

Pyrrhotite derives from the Greek word pyrrhos, meaning "color of fire.” What color is pyrrhotite? It’s typically a bronze to brassy-yellow or coppery-red, similar to the oranges and reds one sees in a flame. As specimens tarnish, pyrrhotite can also display bits of sparkling red or blue — reminiscent of sparks!

The semi-precious gemstone was first discovered in Mine Chichibu, Akaiwa (Japan), in 1835 by Johann Friedrich August Breithaupt, a German mineralogist and professor. Since then, you can find pyrrhotite in several locations across the world.

What have we used pyrrhotite for since then?

Pyrrhotite Uses

Pyrrhotite often occurs alongside pentlandite (the principal ore of nickel). The two are typically mined together if the rock masses contain high amounts of nickel. For example, some pyrrhotite contains up to 5% nickel, enough for pyrrhotite to be mined as an ore of nickel. 

Additionally, pyrrhotite was once a source of iron and sulfur. However, the iron was contaminated with sulfur making it unfit for use. Today, sulfur is no longer made from pyrrhotite because we can obtain it from more economical sources.

Mainly, pyrrhotite is best known for its use in housing foundations. 

Pyrrhotite in Construction

You’ll often find pyrrhotite in concrete, specifically within the backfill material (along with pyrite and marcasite). Pyrrhotite sneaks into concrete by its presence in the aggregate (crushed stones) used to mix it. When the aggregate is mined, pyrrhotite is usually found in such trace amounts that it remains. 

Once the aggregate breaks down for mixing with other concrete materials, the pyrrhotite also breaks down, spreading throughout the final concrete structure. The pyrrhotite typically spreads throughout the concrete in very tiny pieces. But big things come in small packages — in this case, the potential for structural damage. 

You see, pyrite, marcasite, and pyrrhotite are iron sulfides. When iron sulfides are exposed to air and moisture, a series of chemical reactions break them down, forming new minerals called sulfates. These sulfates expand, pushing against the surrounding rock, causing it to swell and crack. 

Even though the pyrrhotite is in very small pieces within the concrete, it’s the sulfide mineral that produces the most volume changes. The added stress it causes by the swelling from corroding is enough to crack or crumble the concrete.

So how do you identify pyrrhotite anyway?

Pyrrhotite Specifications & Characteristics

Pyrrhotite is a particularly unusual mineral because its chemical structure varies. As indicated in the pyrrhotite formula (Fe1-xS), this mineral’s iron content is variable, which is also responsible for its magnetism.

Pyrrhotite is the second most common magnetic mineral after magnetite, but is pyrrhotite always magnetic? That depends on the number of iron (Fe) vacancies in its crystal structure, which determines if pyrrhotite is slightly or strongly magnetic. If pyrrhotite lacks any iron deficiencies, then it’s no longer pyrrhotite. 

The iron variation does more than impact pyrrhotite’s magnetism though. It’s also responsible for its versatile crystal structures — allowing it to form in both hexagonal (sometimes with striations) and monoclinic (prismatic or tabular) symmetries.

Here’s an overview of pyrrhotite’s mineral data:

  • Mineral Family: Troilite 

  • Composition: Iron Sulfide

  • Mohs hardness: 3.5 to 4 

  • Color: Bronze brown, bronze-red, or dark brown

  • Luster: Metallic

  • Transparency: Opa que

  • Refractive index: None

  • Density: 4.58 to 4.65

  • Cleavage: {0001} Imperfect, {1120} Imperfect

  • Fracture: Uneven to sub-Conchoidal

  • Streak: Dark grayish black

  • Luminescence: Not fluorescent in UV

  • Pleochroism: Weak

  • Magnetism: Ferromagnetic

We know pyrrhotite is often referred to as “magnetic pyrite,” but how can you tell the difference between pyrite and pyrrhotite? The main difference is that pyrrhotite contains variable amounts of iron and sulfur, while pyrite does not.

Types of Pyrrhotite

As a result of their locale, pyrrhotite has a couple of variations with subtle differences in composition:

  • Cobalt-bearing Pyrrhotite: A cobalt-bearing variety of pyrrhotite from Russia. 

  • Nickel-bearing Pyrrhotite: A nickel-bearing variety of pyrrhotite from Pennsylvania (USA). 

pyrrhotite healing crystal

Pyrrhotite Healing Properties

You can use most crystals as healing stones to support your physical, emotional, and spiritual body. 

In terms of healing, what is pyrrhotite crystal used for? This mineral helps relieve tension, rejuvenate, and stabilize the mind, body, and spirit in various ways. While it’s not as popular for crystal healing as pyrite, it certainly boasts a multitude of purported benefits that make the body feel better in various ways. 

Here’s how you can harness the power of pyrrhotite to improve your overall wellness. 

Physical Healing

Regarding the physical body, pyrrhotite provides overall strength from the inside out. It fortifies your immune system allowing you to absorb more nutrients, soothes body aches, increases energy, and speeds up natural recovery.

Pyrrhotite is also said to support the bladder, adrenal glands, liver, brain, thyroids, and sexual organs. 

Emotional Healing

Emotionally, what is pyrrhotite used for? Similar to how it relieves tension within your physical body, pyrrhotite relieves tension within your emotions. It brings you feelings of stability and security. It also loosens you emotionally, allowing you to let go of anger, resentment, and negative feelings that no longer serve you.

Pyrrhotite can help improve your focus. Meditating with pyrrhotite allows you to hone in on things that matter most and keeps you from getting distracted by things that don’t. 

Chakra Healing

Some crystals can be used as chakra stones to balance and activate your chakras (energy points along the center of your body). Blockages within your chakras can manifest in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. 

Like other red and orange gemstones, pyrrhotite connects to the sacral chakra (located in the lower abdomen below the navel).

This chakra is associated with sensuality and creativity. It’s responsible for pleasure and overall enjoyment in your life. When balanced and functioning correctly, your relationship with yourself and those around you feels harmonious, pleasurable, and nurturing.

Pyrrhotite shifts your sacral chakra into alignment, making pleasure a priority. It allows you to express your wants and needs in relationships freely. Additionally, it makes it easier for you to tap into creativity and visualization.

Moving along, what is pyrrhotite worth? It all comes down to grading! 

pyrrhotite crystal specimen with quartz, calcite, and dolomite

Pyrrhotite Gemstone Properties

There’s no universal grading system for pyrrhotite. Instead, each gem has individual characteristics that experts look at to assign gems their value.

Similar to pyrite, experts determine pyrrhotite's worth according to its color and cut. 


Pyrrhotite color can vary, but not much. Its most common color is similar to pyrite — a bronze, almost gold hue. Some display tarnish, which appears almost iridescent. These pyrrhotite gems tend to garner higher prices.


Pyrrhotite is a common mineral, but it’s rarely faceted like a gem. Rarely, it’s cut en cabochon, but you’re most likely to find uncut (or rough) pyrrhotite for sale. 

Because pyrrhotite tends to crumble, gem-quality crystals are rarely found intact. However, when well-formed specimens are discovered, they’re incredibly sought-after, with some retailing for thousands of dollars. 


Like pyrite, pyrrhotite is an opaque stone that’s often an inclusion in other gems, such as:

But before pyrrhotite is ever graded, it needs to form in the earth.

pyrrhotite gemstone rough specimenImage credit:  Didier Descouens| GNU Free Documentation License

Pyrrhotite Formation & Sources

Pyrrhotite forms inside basic igneous rocks, pegmatites, hydrothermal veins, and rocks associated with hydrothermal metamorphism.

Some have found commercial deposits of pyrrhotite that were concentrated by magmatic separation (along with pentlandite). This process occurs in a magma chamber as pyrrhotite crystals form within the molten material. Their high density causes them to sink to the bottom. Below, a layer of pyrrhotite and other heavy minerals with similar crystallization temperatures accumulate on the magma chamber floor.

Commercial deposits also occur where pyrrhotite is deposited in veins by hydrothermal fluids. Contact metamorphism has formed other commercial deposits, as well.

Geographically, where is pyrrhotite found?

Mining Locations

Several localities across the world have produced outstanding specimens of pyrrhotite. The most notable ones are: 

  • Australia

  • Brazil (flattened bronze specimens)

  • Canada (microcrystals)

  • China (lustrous, intergrown crystal clusters)

  • Italy

  • Kosovo (well-formed flattened crystals and rosettes)

  • Mexico (thick, prismatic crystals)

  • Norway

  • Peru

  • Romania (etched crystals)

  • Russia (well-crystallized and lustrous platelets)

  • Switzerland

  • USA (ore deposits)

Planning to purchase a pyrrhotite crystal of your own? First, let’s discuss what pyrrhotite typically costs, so you know what to expect.

pyrrhotite gemstone raw crystal specimenImage credit: Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Pyrrhotite Price & Value

Depending on what you’re looking for, pyrrhotite crystals can be inexpensive or costly. Pyrrhotite is relatively abundant, and since most pyrrhotite isn’t intact, it tends to be less expensive than other gems. However, well-formed pyrrhotite garners higher prices. 

Rough pyrrhotite generally costs between $0.20 and $1.00 per gram. However, higher-quality specimens are rarer. These can fetch prices as high as $3.90 to over $13.50 per gram. Some extraordinary specimens have retailed for as much as $315 per gram.

Cabochons and faceted cuts are rare. Should you come across some, they’re more valuable than rough specimens but vary in price. Low to mid-range quality pieces start at about $3 per carat and increase from there. 

Pyrrhotite is more of a collector’s gem and isn’t really used in jewelry, especially in comparison to pyrite. 

If you come across some pyrrhotite jewelry, the mineral is likely included in other gems more commonly used in pendants, rings, or bracelets. Therefore, prices for these pieces vary depending on which gems and metals are implemented. 

If you want your pyrrhotite crystal to endure time, you’ll need to master caring for your gemstones!

Pyrrhotite Care and Maintenance

Pyrrhotite is brittle and finicky, so handling your crystals with care is essential.

When cleaning, it’s important to remember that moisture can deteriorate your pyrrhotite’s composition. Thus, it’s important to keep it away from water and humidity. Instead, gently dust away impurities with a soft, non-abrasive cloth or soft-bristle toothbrush. 

Always store your pyrrhotite in a cool, dry place to keep it from decomposing. If you take all the steps necessary to protect your pyrrhotite and still find that it’s decomposing, it may not be your fault.

Pyrite’s Disease

Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans is a bacteria attracted to iron sulfides such as pyrite and pyrrhotite. It accelerates pyrrhotite’s deterioration by metabolizing iron and sulfur to create sulfuric acid. While humidity plays a key role, sometimes it’s entirely out of your control. Many within the crystal community colloquially refer to this as Pyrite’s Disease. 

If you see this occurring with your gem, relocate it to an airtight container or dispose of it. The acidithiobacillus bacteria can potentially spread to other pyrites and iron sulfide crystals in your collection if you’re not careful.

Have an Appetite for Pyrrhotite?

Pyrrhotite gems are hard to find and tricky to care for, but they’re well worth the effort.  It’s important to make time for the things that feed your soul, but life often gets in the way. Pyrrhotite may give you the push you need to move your contentment to the top of your to-do list.

Pyrrhotite is a unique mineral to add to any crystal collection — its positive vibes are just a bonus! 

Buy pyrrhotite and other rare gemstones today!

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