Friday, May 25, 2012

White Turquoise vs. Howlite

White Turquoise from the Dry Creek Mine
note the slightly green hue

 For a long time, I referred to the howlite in my rosaries and jewelry as white turquoise.   I knew it really wasn't actual turquoise, but I thought it was okay to call it that because I thought genuine white turquoise was non-existent.   I thought of it in much the same way as I thought of that sweet white candy made from milk solids which is often called “white chocolate”.   In reality, the candy doesn't have any relationship to chocolate whatsoever.  But, since genuine white chocolate does not exist, and since everyone calls it that, it has come to be known as white chocolate.  In my mind, the same concept was true when it came to referring to howlite as “white turquoise”.

White Buffalo Turquoise
Then one day I got curious and googled “white turquoise” and to my surprise discovered that genuine white turquoise does exist and it is much different from howlite.   Genuine white turquoise, at this point, is quite rare and only comes from mines in Arizona and Nevada.  Some of those mines are the Dry Creek or Sacred Buffalo Mine, the Tortoise Turquoise Mine, and the New Landers Mine to name a few. 

Genuine white turquoise will test the same as blue and green turquoise and will register 5 - 6 on the Mohs scale…which is the same register for blue and green turquoise.  Also, white turquoise, in reality, is not truly white.   In general, it will have a slight blue or green hue.    This comes from the minerals that actually identify it as genuine turquoise.  Furthermore, the matrix or chert in white turquoise is the same as the matrix found in colored turquoise.  To learn more about this beautiful stone, please visit this site hosted by Durango Silver.

Example of white howlite beads which has been stabilized

Howlite on the other hand is a completely different stone.   Often used as a substitute for turquoise and sometimes passed off as turquoise, it is tempting to overlook its inherent beauty.  But let’s take a closer look.   In its natural state, howlite is generally white with a brown and/or gray-black matrix. The contrast between the white stone and the brown/black matrix is quite attractive making it a desirable stone in its own right.   Rarely, deposits of natural tan howlite can be found.   In this case, the matrix is a beautiful bluish-gray color. 

Howlite is much softer than genuine turquoise, registering only 3.5 on the Mohs scale.  Because of its softness, Howlite can easily be dyed and often is dyed almost every color of the rainbow.   Because of this, dyed howlite can go with almost anything making it an extremely versatile stone.  Also, because of its softness, it is usually stabilized with resin to give it extra hardness and also to fill in the little dings and dimples found in the natural stone.   Because howlite is less expensive than turquoise, it has greater availability making it accessible to almost anyone who would like to have it.   To learn more, please visit this site hosted by WiseGeek.

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