Marcasite is a yellowish, white, or silvery-yellow iron sulfide mineral. It has the same chemical formula as pyrite but has a different crystal structure. Before 1845 the term marcasite was applied to all iron sulfides. Most marcasite found in jewelry is probably actually pyrite because marcasite is not as stable as pyrite and will tarnish rapidly.
- Optical Properties
- Characteristic Physical Properties
- Chemistry & Crystallography
Countries of Origin
Papua New Guinea; Cambodia; Kazakhstan; Portugal; Greece; Mongolia; Morocco; Unknown; Mali; Panama; Iraq; Chile; Nepal; Argentina; Ukraine; Ghana; Zambia; India; Canada; Turkey; Belgium; Namibia; Finland; South Africa; Georgia; Jamaica; Peru; Germany; Yemen; Eritrea; Fiji; Viet Nam; Madagascar; Thailand; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Costa Rica; Sweden; Poland; Bulgaria; Jordan; Nigeria; Tunisia; Croatia; Sri Lanka; Kenya; Switzerland; Spain; Djibouti; Azerbaijan; Cuba; Australia; Tajikistan; Estonia; Myanmar; Cyprus; Malaysia; Oman; Bosnia And Herzegovina; Armenia; Austria; Korea (the Republic of); Luxembourg; Brazil; Algeria; Jersey; Slovenia; Tonga; Colombia; Ecuador; Hungary; Japan; Taiwan (Province of China); Albania; Bolivia (Plurinational State of); New Zealand; Vanuatu; Honduras; Italy; Antarctica; Afghanistan; Russian Federation; Czechia; United States of America; Egypt; Saudi Arabia; Netherlands; Pakistan; China; Ireland; Slovakia; France; Serbia; Kyrgyzstan; Romania; Niger; Philippines; Rwanda; Uzbekistan; Norway; Botswana; Denmark; Mexico; Uganda; Zimbabwe; Greenland; Montenegro; Indonesia
The marcasite we see in jewelry isn't really marcasite - it's pyrite. Marcasite has the same chemical formula as pyrite but crystallizes in a different crystal system. The reason that pyrite steps in for marcasite is that marcasite may, under some conditions, reduce to a white powder. Not ideal for jewelry! Pyrite retains its marvelous metallic luster and works wonderfully with the silver, and other white metals, in which it is most often set. So although marcasite and pyrite aren't the same, we use the word marcasite as a descriptive word for pyrite in jewelry. We associate the shimmery marcasite (pyrite) with antique-jewelry pieces. Marcasite adds an element of vintage-elegance to almost every piece of jewelry into which it is set.
Clean in warm water with gentle soap. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Do not use chemicals, ultrasonic or steam cleaners.
More About Marcasite
In the time of Cleopatra, marcasite was said to be an aid in the preservation of beauty. Legend tells us that she may have worn it for that reason. Marcasite has been called the gemstone of the Incas. They are thought to have been the first people to use it as jewelry. Marcasite jewelry was favored in the court of Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. Her extended period of mourning required everyone at court to be dressed in mourning wear. Marcasite and onyx were the obvious choices for jewelry. Sumptuary laws throughout Europe made it illegal for "commoners" to wear diamonds and other luxury items. Marcasite made an affordable and popular alternative.