Gemstone Info: Howlite
When many people think of howlite, they imagine a beautiful turquoise colour. However, natural occurring howlite stone isn’t actually blue. Instead, it tends to be white or gray. But whether it’s the colour of a radiant summer sky or freshly fallen snow, howlite’s veining makes it an intriguing stone.
If you want to learn more about howlite, including its properties, history, where its found, and more, here’s a look at what this adaptable gemstone is all about.
Howlite gemstone is a borate mineral. In its natural state, howlite is primarily white or gray, usually with darker veining in either grey, black, or a deep brown. However, pure white howlite does occur and, in incredibly rare cases, clear howlite crystals have been spotted.
Since howlite is very porous, it can be dyed to mimic other stones. This allows people to get gemstones that look like more expensive or harder to source stones, like lapis lazuli, red coral, or genuine turquoise.
When howlite is properly dyed, figuring out how to tell the difference between howlite and turquoise can be very difficult if you don’t want to risk damaging the stone. The veining looks very similar, and the colours can be surprisingly close.
However, howlite’s colour tends to be more uniform than genuine turquoise. Plus, it costs a lot less, so the price of a piece of jewelry can also be a sign that you are seeing howlite beads or stones instead of turquoise.
The History of Howlite
Howlite was discovered by Henry How in 1868 in Nova Scotia, Canada. He learned of an unknown mineral that was plaguing gypsum miners, as the stone was harder than gypsum and hindering their ability to perform their work.
Where Howlite is From
Natural occurrences of howlite can be found in Canada as well as part of the United States. There are large deposits in California, particularly near Los Angeles. However, clear howlite crystals have been found in small quantities in two places: Iona, Nova Scotia, and Tick Canyon, California.
There are also smaller deposits of white howlite in several other countries. Germany, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey have all been known to have some howlite.
Both white howlite and blue howlite are regularly used in jewelry. The stones can’t be faceted, so they tend to be tumbled, cut en cabochon, or made into howlite beads. In some cases, howlite is even carved into shapes, like skulls and hearts. Typically, as long as the edges are rounded and smoothed, it’s a shape that might work for howlite.
Since turquoise howlite is usually a substitute for genuine turquoise, you can find nearly any kind of jewelry. Howlite necklace and howlite pendant options are readily available, as well as howlite bracelet designs, earrings, and more.
While howlite can be easily paired with gold or silver, when it’s dyed to resemble turquoise, silver is more commonly chosen. This is because silver was frequently used in the Southwestern United States and into South America, and many traditional Native American jewelry pieces feature both turquoise and silver. If a piece of howlite jewelry is meant to invoke that culture, you’ll probably see silver over gold.
It is important to note that howlite jewelry shouldn’t come in contact with harsh household cleaners. It’s a relatively soft mineral, so anything abrasive might scratch the stone. Ideally, only mild cleansers and soft cloths should be used to clean any pieces containing howlite, ensuring your jewelry stays in tip-top shape for years to come.
The howlite gemstone meaning isn’t always fully agreed upon. Some believe that white howlite meaning is connected with calcium in the body, possibly due to its colour. As a result, howlite healing properties that some subscribe to typically relate to the bones and teeth.
Howlite metaphysical properties are said to relate to anything from awareness, wisdom, and enlightenment to ridding yourself of anxiety and stress. From that angle, howlite healing properties tend to focus on emotional wellness, calmness, and contentment.
However, while some people do believe these points to be true, it’s important to understand that they aren’t proven to be effective. Further, wearing, carrying, holding, or interacting with a gemstone or mineral does not substitute for proper medical care. While having a piece of howlite jewelry shouldn’t cause the wearer any harm, it should never be seen as a viable treatment or cure for any medical condition.
Stones Similar to Howlite
In its natural state, white howlite and magnesite are often easily confused. The colouring is very similar, and they can both be dyed in different colours with relative ease.
Turquoise howlite is often used as a substitute for genuine turquoise. The colouring is very similar, but howlite turquoise stones are much easier to find ethically sourced, making it a much more affordable option. Additionally, howlite is much softer than turquoise so, while the look is a decent match, howlite scratches with greater ease.
Certain pieces of white agate or white lace agate may also resemble howlite. However, white agate doesn’t tend to have the same dramatic veining, and white lace agate’s veining pattern isn’t an exact match to howlite's.