Gem Profile- Howlite
by Judy Ellis
You learned last week that copper is the big element that sets turquoise apart from magnesite. Today's stone, howlite, is made of Calcium, Silicon, Boron, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, but no copper here, either. Like magnesite, howlite loves to absorb dye, especially turquoise-colored dye, to give us the look of turquoise without the high price.
"How"ever, turquoise isn't the only stone that howlite likes to dress up as. Howlite may be dyed red to resemble red coral, or blue to resemble lapis lazuli. And howlite is still valued in its natural white state, with its gray and black veins, which sometimes may be slightly brown. Magnesite veins are more typically tan or cream, which is a way to differentiate the two similar stones.


Peggy Marzano wrapped this turquoise howlite cabochon in a bracelet with sterling silver and 14kt gold filled wire.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Howlite - , General Education, , Turquoise howlite cabochon in a bracelet with sterling silver and 14kt gold filled wire.
Howlite was named for Henry How of Nova Scotia, who was the first geologist to describe the mineral, in 1868. In the mine, you might find howlite crystals, which may be transparent to cloudy brown, as well as opaque. Opaque howlite is typically cut into beads or cabochons, rather than faceted like a translucent gemstone.


Natural howlite (top) and Dyed howlite cabochons and beads.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Howlite - , General Education, , Dyed Howlite
Other names for howlite include turquenite (when dyed turquoise), white turquoise, white buffalo stone, and white buffalo turquoise. This is a misleading name, since the stone is unrelated to the legend of the white buffalo or any buffalo at all, and it's also a misleading marketing attempt to equate the stone with turquoise.

Howlite is found in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, Canada; Nevada and California, US; Mexico; and in some parts of Europe, including Germany, Turkey and Serbia. (I was surprised to finally find a stone that's not listed in Brazil - but perhaps the list was incomplete!)

When howlite isn't being formed into beads and cabochons, it is carved into ornaments or the boron in it is extracted for industrial use. Like magnesite, howlite rates about a 3.5 on Moh's scale, which is fairly soft, and softer than real turquoise, which has a hardness of 5-6. Some samples of crystalline howlite, however, were found to be as hard as 6.5 by minerologists in Nova Scotia (source) - practically as hard as quartz!


Karen McCoun wrapped this howlite cabochon into a beautiful pendant.

Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Howlite - , General Education, , Howlite cabochon pendant.
Possibly because of its coloring, or because of its calcium makeup, howlite is thought by some to aid in healing of the bones and teeth. Howlite is said to soften a critical, selfish, or rude nature, and provide a calming influence. Some metaphysical believers attribute howlite with memory enhancing strengths.
Resources & Recommended Reading

Howlite on Wiipedia
Howlite on MinDAT

Materials

Wire
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13 Piece Turquoise Howlite Collar Set
A2-1993Q
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $2.40
  • Gold Club Price: $1.80
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13 Piece White Howlite Collar Set
A2-1993B
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $3.10
  • Gold Club Price: $2.33
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Beads
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Cabochons
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Tools

WireJewelry - Ultimate Wire-Pliers Jewelry Pliers with Case, Set of 5
G15-20
  • G15-20
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $170.72
  • Gold Club Price: $128.04
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Bench Tools
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  • Category: General Education
  • Technique(s): General Education