When you think of a shiny gemstone, you might imagine a perfectly faceted, geometric, translucent, sparkling stone. While cut gems are certainly striking, there is another class of gemstones worthy of your adoration: opaque gems like white howlite.
Opaque gems aren’t translucent, like diamonds, but instead, have a milky or solid base stone. Examples include lapis lazuli, opal, turquoise, and white howlite. You may be familiar with the first three, but what is white howlite?
For starters, did you know there’s a stone that looks like turquoise called white howlite? Howlite is an affordable, offbeat gem seen in small, artisanal jewelry designs.
There’s a lot of confusion circulating about howlite and whether it’s a real gem. Keep reading as we clear the air about turquoise’s long lost twin!
What is White Howlite?
If you’re wondering what stone looks like turquoise, then let us explore howlite. People often confuse howlite for turquoise because they have similar appearances. However, there are distinct differences between turquoise and dyed howlite.
The most notable difference is that howlite is dyed to look like turquoise, whereas turquoise naturally occurs in its namesake color.
Howlite stone is a mineral composed of calcium borosilicate hydroxide. Similar to turquoise, the stone exhibits lovely streaks of colored webbing.
Is Howlite A Real Gemstone?
If howlite isn’t turquoise, is it a real gem? Absolutely! It’s true that most howlite’s are color-treated to mimic turquoise. However, this mineral stone is 100% natural and found in sedimentary evaporite deposits in the U.S. and Canada.
The reason many mistake howlite as a synthetic is because of its comparison to turquoise, along with the fact that it can be dyed any color.
It’s interesting that the features that make this stone unique are also what raise suspicion. We can assure you: Howlite is a real gemstone worth a second glance. While the gem is less popular than most, it’s affordable and unique.
So, what is the meaning of white howlite? Is it worth any money? Does howlite look good in jewelry? Let’s find out!
Key Features of Howlite
What Color is Howlite?
Have you ever seen the beautiful watercolor-like webbing gliding across white marble? This effect is called matrix, and it’s seen on both turquoise and howlite. The key difference is that turquoise is naturally robin’s egg blue, thanks to its teal-producing composition of copper, aluminum, and phosphorus.
Howlite, on the other hand, can transform to any color with a little mineral dye.
Howlite’s natural color is milky white with grayish-blue webbing across the stone. The gem has a strong, shiny luster that takes well to color-treatment. In its natural state, howlite is porous and shiny as porcelain.
And howlite’s treatment isn’t limited to robin’s egg blue because a little dye will transform it to any color of the rainbow.
Like all crystals and gemstones, howlite is symbolic and meaningful thanks to its healing properties. Howlite can aid with insomnia by quieting a racing mind. In addition, it promotes learning, patience, and wisdom.
As a calming crystal, you can place howlite throughout your home to build a grid of serenity and invite peace into your sanctuary. Be sure to keep it nearby during times of distress, as its soothing energy has a calming, grounding effect.
Lucky for us, howlite is extremely affordable because it’s simply not a common stone. Most jewelers choose to work with more popular opaque gems like turquoise or opal. Despite its lack of popularity, howlite is beautiful and holds merit among other gemstones. When you find a howlite with distinct webbing, it looks beautiful in earrings and pendants.
And did you know there is a variety of howlite that’s rare and valuable? If you ever find a howlite without its signature webbing, you may as well have found a tiger without stripes! Transparent howlite without veins or webbing is extremely rare and desirable, so don’t let this jewel slip through your hands.
Howlite Properties and Jewelry
One drawback to howlite is its softness, which ranks at 3.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Ordinarily, you’d want stronger gems for jewelry to avoid scratching or tarnishing the stone. However, the standard cutting for howlite is cabochon, which is a smooth, polished, and shaped gem.
That’s because howlite is too soft to cut into without damaging. Additionally, you don’t want sharp angles in a soft gem because it could crack easily. The best jewelry styles are howlite cabochons and beads for bracelets, necklace pendants, and earrings.
It’s best to avoid howlite rings because of their softness. If you plan to wear a ring daily, you’ll risk bumping it on harder surfaces like counters that can easily scratch the gem.
How Can You Tell Howlite From Turquoise?
Did you know that most of the turquoise sold is dyed howlite? If you’re aware that you’re buying a stand-in stone, this is no problem. However, things get tricky when you think you’re buying real turquoise and in fact given dyed howlite.
Here are some tips for distinguishing howlite vs. turquoise:
- Price: Each turquoise stone is unique because of the webbing variances. If you find a bead collection of similar looking “turquoise,” it’s likely howlite marked up in price. If the price is high, but multiple pieces look the same, they’re probably howlite.
- Webbing: Turquoise webbing naturally erodes over time, making uneven veins across the stone. Run your finger on the surface to feel for bumps and unevenness. If you find it’s uneven, it’s most likely turquoise. Howlite will have a smooth surface.
- Scratching: It’s tough to see this on the spot, but turquoise is a harder stone, meaning it won’t have as many evident scratches as howlite.
- Color test: Take caution because this method may alter the color of your stone. Find a small, unassuming spot on the stone. Dip a Q-tip in a little nail polish remover. Now rub a small surface of the stone. Did some of the blue come off? Then it’s a howlite. If not, you’ve got a real turquoise gemstone.
We’ll conclude by highlighting the fact that howlite is a beautiful stone! Unfortunately, it’s constantly compared to its popular sister, turquoise. Howlite has beautiful qualities worth appreciation: its soft, milky color, those gorgeous natural veins, and the gem’s shiny luster. If you can look beyond turquoise to appreciate howlite’s uniqueness, we’re sure you’ll love this attractive gem!