Howlite

Howlite can be quite a nuisance of a stone – it is often dyed, giving it a passing resemblance to Turquoise, which is enough to confuse some newer rock and gemstone collectors.

It isn't something we actually get rough specimens of too often – most is sold polished already!

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Appearance

Howlite often occurs in nodules which look like a cauliflower ‘flower’. It can also occur in earthy masses. It is naturally white, with black, grey, or brown vein like lines crisscrossing the surface.


Uses and History

Howlite is typically considered a nuisance stone.

It was discovered in a gypsum mine near Windsor, Nova Scotia by a Canadian mineralogist called Henry How.

Miners in the mine found the stone to be a nuisance – since then, well…

Howlite is most often used as a decorative object, but not in its original form. It is usually dyed to resemble Turquoise – sold using the trade name ‘Turqurenite’.

However, many inexperienced or unscrupulous sellers sell this material as genuine Turquoise. I have written a blog post on identifying whether Turquoise is fake or not. 


Locales

Howlite is found in Canada and the USA.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
Calcim Silico-borate – Ca2B5SiO9(OH)5
Colours and Variations
White, other colours are dyed.
Streak
White
Luster
Dull, subvitreous, sometimes vitreous
Fracture
Conchoidal, uneven
Crystal habit
Tabular crystals are uncommon – most Howlite occurs in masses or large nodules.
Mohs hardness
3.0 – 3.5
Specific Gravity
2.48 – 2.6
Easiest testing method
If you suspect a piece is dyed, test with Acetone. You can distinguish between Howlite and Magnesite with a hardness test.
Common Treatments
Often dyed to resemble Turquoise, and sometimes treated with wax for stability.

Photos of Howlite

Howlite-BYU
Howlite - tumble polished stone
Howlite-bolo

Hazards and Warnings

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

Hindi:

Portuguese:

Bengali:

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

  • ਹੌਲਾਈਟ

English:

Italian:

Russian:

  • говлит

French:

Japanese:

  • ハウライト

Spanish:

  • howlita

German:

Korean:

  • 하울 라이트

Thai:

  • ฮาวไลท์

Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

Urdu:

  • ہولائٹ

Further Reading / External Links