Is Marcasite Jewelry really Pyrite Jewelry?



I love marcasite jewelry jewelry!  Mostly set in sterling silver, the little spikes glitter like gems.  Are you the owner of any Marcasite Jewelry?    Ever wonder what Marcasites are?    You may be surprised to learn that most Marcasite jewelry is not made from Marcasites!


Marcasite or Pyrite?




Marcasite is an interesting mineral that has been confused with other types of minerals for generations. Marcasite, which is sometimes called white pyrite or white iron pyrite is created from iron sulfide. Its chemical make up is FES2. Marcasite is closely associated with Pyrite, but most likely those that think they are buying Marcasite are actually buying pyrite.

This problem arises from the unique chemical make up of each. Marcasite includes the exact same chemicals as Pyrite, except they are arranged differently which makes their inherent qualities different.  Marcasite for instance, will be extremely brittle and will crumble quite easily. It is also sometimes recognized by being lighter than pyrite.

Marcasite is usually yellowish or has a brassy look to it. It can sometimes include the color of green.


Marcasite or Pyrite Jewelry?




Marcasite jewelry is mostly pyrite but not all pyrite is marcasite nor is all marcasite pyrite. Got it? (Try saying that sentence five times fast!)

Marcasite jewelry (made from Pyrite) is widely produced and worn. Pyrite has a very similar color and luster to gold, even when tarnished, which makes it great for producing inexpensive costume jewelry that looks expensive and luxurious.

The jewelry is then labeled marcasite—not the mineral, just a classification for the jewelry. Still confused? Don’t worry, it is confusing.  Just remember that marcasite is the name for both a mineral and the type of costume jewelry made with pyrite.

Why do we misuse the term marcasite?


Marcasite jewelry made with Pyrite


Misuse of the term marcasite, when in fact the jewelry is made of pyrite, not marcasite, stems from the similarities between marcasite and pyrite. Essentially, they are the same mineral and would look and act exactly the same, if their molecules crystalized in the same way. We misuse the term simply because it has been misused for so long. When looking for marcasite jewelry, just know that it is most likely made from pyrite, despite bearing the name of a different material!


Visit Stuff4uand4u for a nice selection of Marcasite Jewelry made by great designers including Judith Jack and more!









  1. What I love so much about this jewelry is that it has such a vintage look to it. Just beautiful!

    • I agree. Judith Jack, the leader in marcasite jewelry, founded the company as so many wanted this vintage look, but not much to be found.

  2. That really is confusing. Sounds to me that marcasite that is really pyrite would be better than real marcasite, which is brittle and crumbles easily.

    • You got it! Not sure why it was ever called marcasite jewelry, but probably earliest pieces were made with marcasite, and then jewelry makers discovered pyrite gave the same look as was easier to work with.

  3. Wow, I had no clue that the marcasite jewelry I love and wear is really pyrite. All of these years I thought I loved marcasite when in fact it was pyrite that caught my eye! And from your article, it sounds as if marcasite isn’t a great candidate for use in jewelry. Terrific to know!

  4. Who knew? Fun article, and the stuff is gorgeous. Especially love the old vintage deco style pieces.

  5. My daughter and I love pyrite and usually buy unusual pieces when we visit Arizona. I really like the look of the marcasite jewelry and honestly the raw pieces you show really do look like pyrite. Thanks for explaining the differences and featuring this lovely vintage looking jewelry, Robin!

  6. I had no idea! Fascinating! I don’t have any marcasite jewelry, but I’ll certainly pay attention to it now when I see it in the shops. I’ll even know to ask about which it is!

    • Once I discovered marcasite jewelry, it is my go to style. Unless gold works better (most marcasites are set in sterling), I can be found decked in marcasites.

  7. Thanks for this mini tutorial on marcasite. I did not realize there was a difference between this a pyrite but now it make sense. It really is a beautiful gem..whatever you call it!

  8. Have no marcasite jewelry but I will definitely look for some as they look very cool.

  9. Such beautiful pieces of jewelry! I do not own any, but I just love the look!

  10. I’ve never heard of Marcasite jewelry before but these pieces are beautiful

  11. Sonya Kolodziejska

    I have never heard of Pyrite, we learn something new every day eh. The pieces are stunning, especially that purple ring (my favourite colour)

  12. Well, I can say that I am always learning when I read this blog. I have never heard of Pyrite or Marcasite but it is quite beautiful. The look is extreme vintage and that is just beautiful.

  13. Wow.. I had no idea and quite honestly I am a little dumb on gems, stones and etc.. .but great explanation.. thanks for sharing that… great pieces too

  14. I’ve always loved marcasite – interesting facts about the difference between the two and the misuse of the name.

  15. Thanks for explaining the differences, Robin. Did not know about the similarities between marcasites and pyrite and the confusion between the two. I’m just starting to get interested in all things Vintage and will be looking more closely at the decorative details.

  16. I love coming to your blog. I learn something new all the time. The other day I was looking for a bracelet with a turtle charm and I saw a lot of these kinds of design you have featured here. I did not even know that there is a specific name for this kind of jewelry.

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