How Can You Tell the Difference between Mica Flakes, Pyrite Flakes, and Gold Flakes?

Whether you’re gold panning or shopping at a garage sale or digging through your attic, when you see gold flakes it’s an exciting moment, especially if they turn out to be real gold.  But how can you be sure it’s gold and not mica or pyrite (also known as Fool’s Gold)?  Here are some things you can try:

  • Take tweezers and bend one.  Gold will bend, but pyrite and mica usually will not.  If the flakes shatter or break, they aren’t gold.  Gold will simply bead up.  Note that if you don’t bend it far enough, mica might spring back since it does have SOME flexibility.
  • If you poke pyrite or mica flakes with a pin, they will usually break apart into even smaller flakes, whereas gold will dent and spread like soft lead.
  • Rub the flakes between your fingers.  If they disintegrate, they aren’t gold.
  • If you’re gold panning, pyrite and mica are much lighter than gold and will usually float out in the panning process.  Be more excited about gold flakes that stay at the bottom of the pan!
  • Gold flakes will still look like gold in the shade whereas pyrite and mica won’t.
  • If you scratch a larger piece of pyrite, it will produce a sulfur smell.
  • Gold is a metal, pyrite and mica are not, so see what your metal detector has to say!  However, keep in mind that the detector won’t always detect flakes because they’re so small.
  • Gold shines, but pyrite and mica (due to their crystalline structure) tend to be more glittery in appearance.  In the sunlight, gold nuggets or flakes will continue to shine as the specimen is turned to different angles and remain the same color.  Pyrite and mica will glitter as the different sides of their crystal-like structure reflect light differently.  They will also change color when tilted in a different direction due to its color coming from reflected light.

Of course if you want to be SURE the flakes are gold, have a professional like Gemologist Sam look at them!


28 Comments on How Can You Tell the Difference between Mica Flakes, Pyrite Flakes, and Gold Flakes?

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  1. laila
  2. hi im from egypt. my husband found a tiny flakes like gold glitters in our backyard. it is so many mix with the soil. we found it 2 meters under the ground. is it possible that there is a gold. or is that flakes a gold or not? i told him to bring that flakes in the jewelry shop to test but he is so afraid. until now we dont know what we have found.

  3. jillian
  4. I still dont know if my flakes are gold

  5. Mary
  6. Gold is a metal chemically speaking. It just does not contain iron which is attracted to magnets. Just because something does not contain iron does not mean it isnt a metal. Hence why silver, platinum, gold, etc are called “precious metals”.

  7. Mary
  8. woops i didnt read it right. it says gold is a metal. good call

  9. Linda
  10. I have found an old river bed abour four feet or so under our yard. I am pulling our quartz with gold veins and also have found a beautiful specimen of quartz and mica covered in gold flakes. It squishes down instead of breaking, does not stick to a magnet, glitters like gold. I have found six chunks, three of which were fairly large. Is this a common find? I live near Mt. Rainier. Does anyone know?

  11. Adrian
  12. Does gold form with mica?

    niga please

    you irish niger mom

    mica is fucked up

  13. Hunter
  14. I was going hrough my closet which has all my childhood stuff in it (I’m 14) and found my old collection of rocks that I had picked up from everywhere (I picked up at least 5 rocks everywhere I went), and I saw a majority of them were shining and Golden-Silver colored. I went and ran the tests, and they matched up with the description of gold almost every time. So I’m going to get it checked out by a professional soon. If it is real then I have about 2oz of gold. Hooray!

  15. James
  16. Good info. I pan here in tx and im getting alot of color in my black sand but I dont know if its real. Anyone have any ideas on what to do? The specs are to small to do much with.

  17. jason
  18. if you were to boil all three (Gold, Mica, Pyrite) in nitric acid, what would the results be?

    It seems to me that you are all full of garbage!! Years ago a University Geologist told me that where I am , the river gold is transparent and that you CAN NOT!!! see gold color at every angle!!! at some angles you can almost see right trough it!!!! The University survey for the Government found that 90% of the gold is recrystallized gold!!!!! ,,,,,and because of it’s flakey foil nature, it acts diferently in water and has LESS DENSITY!!! so you all make sick, you all make everything sick , toilet monsters say one thing and then another,,,rotten garbage . You’re all just an evil pestilence ..the worst enemy there is to everything there is, and it defies simple logic that you’re goin far!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Hey everybody!!!! It’s me again …somthin I forgot to mention….these gold flakes of foil average from 700 10 thousands of an inch to 1 half of a millimeter most of them are about 1 tenth millimeter. Hey…GEMOSAMMY if you ever tried to pick up a FLAT foil flake nugget, …with tweezers, ?????? thats even 1 half millimeter????hugh???? I’d sure like to see that!!!!!! Hey!!! where is Peter Pan?? and Marry PoPPins????

  19. Derrick
  20. mike if the gold is attracted to a magnet then it is not real it is more than likly pyrite with iron

  21. nobny
  22. Urr all gay, really really gay!!!

  23. GW
  24. LINDA-

    you have gold in the stream bed below your lawn. That it “squishes down”, and was found threaded through quartz ( “wire gold”)is a classic gold find.

    CONGRATULATIONS. What gold needs to appear near/at the surface is PLUMBING, and the most commonly found mineral with gold is quartz. That is because quartz is the liquid in which all the “light Platinum group” travels as both liquid and gas under heat and pressure to the surface, which are FAULTS, cracks, and fractures in the rock above, or “cap rock”.

    DO NOT sell your property, DO NOT tell anyone you don’t thoroughly trust about your find, ESPECIALLY any “authority”.

    Educate yourself on youtube, there is all the info you need. I’ve just done it, logging well over a thousand hours of research time, and I’m still at it, as well as prospecting in the Okanogan north and east of you. You are very fortunate, but “a fool and his gold are soon parted” is the simple truth.

    Email me for website info if you haven’t figured it out by now.

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  25. Unknow
  26. I found some white Quartz and I found a yellow metalic flake I dont know if it’s pyrite or mica or gold

  27. Unknow
  28. I found some white Quartz and I found a yellow metalic flake I dont know if it’s pyrite or mica or gold and I don’t know what to do or say

  29. justsayin'
  30. Linda, I wouldn’t give your email or address or anything to anyone on here. They’re probably hackers waiting to find out where your gold river bed is. yikes!

  31. Shannon
  32. I have way too many rocks goldpowder flaked silver flakes green ones. Crystals and many many more, want to sell them

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