About Howlite
Re: Um..., no. -- beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadman Post Reply
03/06/2021, 22:09:31

I'm going to repeat some information I have presented multiple times—most recently at Facebook Groups.

I can recall when, in the 1970s, dyed howlite was an available turquoise imitation. It was also dyed red to imitate coral. These were inexpensive beads of little consequence. I came to feel I had an exposure to those products that I could visually recognize them when I saw them. Howlite is generally opaque and white. It has a predictable matrix type that I characterized as weak (pale wispy) and choppy (disconnected)—and un-turquoise-like. Although it took dyes brilliantly, the penetration was superficial—and a broken bead (which is easy to have happen, because it is a soft friable mineral) reveals the white interior. (More on matrix later.)

In the 1980s and particularly by 1985, Chinese turquoise became plentiful, and was available in a variety of types and qualities, and it was possible to buy it more cheaply than many people expected. It was an abundance. It was my feeling that howlite imitations could not compete in the marketplace, and all but disappeared.

Over the previous ca. twenty years, Chinese manufactures introduced a new product, used to imitate turquoise—and this is dyed magnesite. And also reconstructed and hardened dyed magnesite. As I have shown, imitations of turquoise can be visually compelling, but also have predictable characteristics.

One thing I have noticed in recent years is that magnesite imitations are frequently referred to as "dyed howlite." But, in the bead marketplace I have yet to see anything I would be inclined to identify as howlite. I cannot say there is none. Only that I haven't seen it yet.

So, when someone purports that a turquoise imitation "is howlite," I am inclined to take exception to this—and to suspect that the material might be magnesite.

Also in recent years, howlite has become a mineral provided with a reputation (in the arena of healing stones, or minerals that have desirable properties)—so I know that howlite is being exploited for these purposes. And it's easy to find it on the Net.

Tonight I have made a search, looking for undyed stones that resemble what I studied and recall from ca. 40 to 45 years ago, to present their typical appearance. I was actually surprised that most of the material is not matrix-free; and that some stones do actually have a crackled appearance that resembles spiderweb turquoise. And I suppose that if these were dyed cunningly, the result would be steps above what I remember from decades ago. But I have not seen this yet.

In any event, I harvested and combined some Net images, showing undyed and dyed howlite. Just so it is possible to see this stuff, and to be able to compare it to actual turquoise, and to magnesite products.

3howlite_specimens.jpg (64.1 KB)  

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