Gold and pyrite are two very misunderstood and often misidentified aspects to rock hounding and gold mining.
Not only is pyrite (FeS2) one of the most common minerals on earth its easily recognized by its bright yellow color and brilliance. Pyrite often occurs in quartz and can be crystalline in nature, cubical or in a mass. Pyrite is common in many rock types, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary and weathers to limonite. You will find it oxidized in ore bodies, especially near the surface. When weathering occurs part of pyrite becomes FeSO4 (look that up) and some if it remains in the form of limonite. Realistically it can be a good clue that gold is nearby.
Gold is hard yet malleable, pyrite can be shattered with a blow of a hammer. In some hard rock deposits the pyrite follows the gold while yet in others more pyrite means less gold, ya gotta love nature. Pyrite has many varieties including Arsenian Pyrite, Cobaltoan Pyrite, Thallian Arsenian Pyrite just to name a few. Pyrite can be made into very beautiful jewelry by knowledgeable professionals and many mineral collectors will pay thousands of dollars for rare forms and specimens. I have a very nice pyrite collection that I’m proud of, it can be very visually appealing.
Some years ago I made the video below to help people understand the visual difference between the gold and pyrite. Hope you enjoy it.