Monday, December 21, 2015

What is Tuquoise Howlite? Is it "Real"?

Howlite is a very porous borate mineral that was discovered by Henry How (1828–1879), a Canadian chemist, geologist, and mineralogist. He discovered it first near Nova Scotia Canada and it was named after him by an American mineralogist, James Dwight Dana.

Howlite is a soft stone (mohs 3.5) that has a porous texture, which means it can be easily dyed. It is used to imitate turquoise, sometimes very convincingly, because of the similarity of the veining patterns that it naturally has within it. The stone is naturally white and even in an undyed state is often marketed as "White Turquoise" or "White Buffalo Turquoise" which are very misleading names. 

Dyed Howlite should actually be marketed as Turquenite, when done so honestly, however, in trying to pass it off as a type of turquoise when dyed the lighter carribean shades of blue it may be called Turquoise Howlite instead. It is also referred to as Magnesite by some vendors and can be dyed numerous colors ranging from beige to hot pink, with the beige used to imitate bone and the darker blues used to imitate Lapis.

So is it real? Essentially it is a real stone, however, it is not a real form of turquoise. A frequent practice by some sellers of stones and jewelry is that they sell these stones and call them turquoise because they are referring to the color. Be sure to always ask the seller about any gem you are buying but be especially wary if the pricing of an item seems to be "too good to be true." 

That is not to say there are not sellers who are trying to pass off more expensive pieces as turquoise when they are not. One example of this is "Sleeping Beauty Turquoise" which is not Turquoise at all but, once again, Howlite. This is particularly hard for consumers to discern because there is a real Turquoise called Sleeping Beauty after the Arizona mine where it is found. 

It happens all too often and knowing your seller is not only important but a good practice on your part. Another helpful question to ask is what mine, or at the very least, what vendor the Turquoise came from because Turquoise dealers are required by law to accurately and truthfully represent the stones they are selling. If a seller does not know where the stones they are selling came from you may want to avoid buying from them.  


  1. Maybe it's just me, but howlite doesn't feel like turquoise. Real turquoise feels cooler to the touch. Also, real lapiz has flecks of pyrite. Li Kane

  2. I always designate it Turquoise (color) Dyed Howlite so it's clear from the start. Makes me mad when I see suppliers trying to sell it under various trade names, to make it seem like real turquoise. Thanks for taking the time to educate buyers out there. :-)

  3. And thank you for the comment! I appreciate it! :) AND thanks for being an honest vendor. While it is "buyer beware" in many instances today it is good to know there are ethical sellers out there.


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