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.
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