Howlite Gemstone Information
About Howlite - History and Introduction
Howlite was named after Henry How, who discovered it in 1868 in Nova Scotia. Henry How was a Canadian chemist, geologist and mineralogist who was told of this previously unknown mineral by gypsum quarry miners who found it hampered their mining because it is harder than gypsum. Howlite is a borate mineral, which occurs in Canada and parts of the USA. It forms as irregular nodules which can appear in the shape of a cauliflower head. Transparent howlite crystals are extremely rare and are small (the largest documented howlite crystals are 1 cm long), but the nodules can occur in masses of over 50 kilograms. Howlite has the appearance of white marble or porcelain with a sub-vitreous luster. It is opaque and white or grey with grey, black or dark brown veins running through it. Gemstone quality howlite can be interspersed by the darker matrix (which appears as the veins), or it can be matrix-free and pure white. Howlite is best known for imitating other gemstones. Due to its porous nature, howlite can absorb dye well, which means it can be sold as turquoise, red coral, or lapis lazuli. However, honest gem traders always declare any treatments.
Identifying Howlite Back to Top
Howlite is quite porous and because of this quality, it can be dyed to imitate similar colored stones such as turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli. However, howlite itself is generally not mimicked. Howlite is sometimes misleadingly sold as "white turquoise", or also called "the sacred buffalo stone" or "the white buffalo stone". Howlite has a similar appearance and hardness to white marble, but white marble has a low porosity compared to the porous howlite.
Howlite; Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Although howlite was discovered in Canada, most howlite now comes from California and Los Angeles, USA. Deposits have also been found in Turkey, Germany, Mexico and Russia. Rare transparent howlite crystals have only been found in two places; Tick Canyon, California and Iona, Nova Scotia.
Buying Howlite and Determining Howlite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Howlite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Howlite: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Howlite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Howlite is said to balance calcium levels and strengthen the bones and teeth. It is also thought to be a calming stone that can relieve insomnia, therefore, some insomniacs place a piece of howlite beneath their pillow to encourage restful sleep. In traditional Hindu belief systems, howlite is considered to benefit the third eye chakra, and when placed on this chakra, between the brows, it is thought to open up memories of previous lives. Howlite is a non-traditional stone for those born under the zodiacal sign of Gemini. Additionally, howlite is believed to eliminate anger and absorb negative energy.
Howlite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Howlite is quite a soft substance when compared to other gemstones, but its lack of cleavage means that it is quite versatile. Howlite gems make distinctive bolo ties, also known as "bootlace ties". Spherical drilled howlite stones make attractive beaded necklaces and bracelets. Smooth tumble-finished howlite stones are also drilled and used to make necklaces and bracelets. Additionally, fancy cut or cabochon cut howlite stones make unique pendants.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Famous Howlite Gemstones Back to Top
Howlite is most famous, or rather, infamous for imitating other gems, and does not yet seem to be fully appreciated in its own right. Therefore, there are no world famous howlite gemstones, to date.
Howlite Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Howlite is softer than many other gems, so it can be easily scratched. Since howlite dissolves in hydrochloric acid, harsh household chemical cleaners should be avoided. Howlite is softer than common quartz, and since ordinary dust often contains traces of quartz, simply wiping off dust can eventually lead to reduced polish and unwanted surface scratches. To clean your howlite, simply use soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewelry or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sports. Store howlite away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: February-07-2014
- Last Updated: July-25-2017
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