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Identifying beads
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Posted by: Penelope Post Reply
03/05/2021, 16:17:02

I'm having a heck of a time identifying these beads. They are a pale blue or green with a golden matrix, then some of them have a glossy white area, almost like enamel. Also, there are fissures that appear to have a crystal structure inside. I tried a dye test but nothing came of that. These are large beads at 20 mm. Any ideas? Thanks!

IMG_9847.JPG (96.9 KB)  IMG_9848.JPG (103.4 KB)  
Penelope

Modified by Penelope at Sat, Mar 06, 2021, 09:07:00

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Dyed howlite?
Re: Identifying beads -- Penelope Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/06/2021, 09:50:30

I think howlite is dyed lots of colors, turquoise being one of them. Howlite is naturally off-white, and has this spiderweb structure.

But there are some gem & mineral experts here on BCN so hopefully they will check in and give an opinion.



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Re: Dyed howlite?
Re: Dyed howlite? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Penelope Post Reply
03/06/2021, 12:09:20

Thanks for that suggestion Rosanna. I have looked into that and was almost convinced but I'm seeing a crystal structure in some of the stones I can't quite wrap my mind around. I may just have to settle with howlite though, it's the closest as you mentioned with the veining especially.

Penelope

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Um..., no.
Re: Dyed howlite? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadman Post Reply
03/06/2021, 18:11:30

Scroll through this dialogue to see fake turquoise beads and discussion.

I'll return to talk about howlite later tonight. (It's dinnertime!) JDA.

http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=54951&iZz=54951&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=54951&iZz=54951&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0

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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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Re: About Howlite
Re: About Howlite -- beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Penelope Post Reply
03/12/2021, 14:40:14

Thank you Beadman for all of that information. You went above and beyond the call of duty. Then following the numerous links lead me down a rabbit hole of MORE info to think about. I'm going to stick with magnesite.

Penelope

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Re: Identifying Your Beads
Re: Identifying beads -- Penelope Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadman Post Reply
03/06/2021, 22:27:14

What did you do to try to determine whether the stone was dyed? What was your "dye test"?

If you are willing to sacrifice a bead, I suggest splitting it in two. You can probably accomplish this by using a thick steel needle that can be inserted into the perforation, but does penetrate all the way through. Set the bead and needle on a firm surface (needle pointing down; on wood is good), and hammer the needle into the bead. It will probably split into two or three pieces.

As mentioned, dye penetration in howlite is typically superficial, and is white inside. Natural matrix will be apparent in the interior.

In contrast, magnesite imitations routinely have very good dye penetration, and color the entire mass. However, magnesite imitations often have superficial crackling (the point being to imitate a spiderweb appearance, I suppose); and they often have some sort of discoloration process (brown) that imitates matrix. Both of these may be present—or it could be one but not the other. These are notably superficial affectations—and (in my experience) do not penetrat deeply into the stone. So this is different from the actual matrix of turquoise or howlite, that is also internal.

Please tell us what you determine. Jamey



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Samples?
Re: Re: Identifying Your Beads -- beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Hans06 Post Reply
03/07/2021, 03:46:09

Would love to see pictures of broken magnesite and howlite beads to place them on my Boulevard of broken beads, flickr account. To show and learn !
Thx Hans



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Re: Samples?
Re: Samples? -- Hans06 Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Penelope Post Reply
03/12/2021, 14:43:59

I'll keep me eyes open for both of them. I might have some in my "treasure chest", I just need to find the time. Thanks!

Penelope

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Yes please, thx
Re: Re: Samples? -- Penelope Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Hans06 Post Reply
03/12/2021, 14:46:19



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Re: Re: Identifying Your Beads
Re: Re: Identifying Your Beads -- beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Penelope Post Reply
03/12/2021, 14:42:40

I used nail polish remover for a dye test and nothing came off. Then I tested another bead I knew for certain was dyed and the color came off of that bead. I don't want to sacrifice a bead since they are all strung up with a clasp though I know that would help.

Penelope

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Acetone
Re: Re: Re: Identifying Your Beads -- Penelope Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/12/2021, 19:03:34

Acetone, which is a typical nail polish remover, is usually a good solvent for dyes of various sorts.

However, a beizen product is artificially colored (using mineral solutions in acid), that is permanent, and not attacked by solvents.

Beizen products are OFTEN referred to as having been "dyed"—though this is incorrect.

The Chinese have a long history of dying minerals—particularly soft stones, and hard stones (and glass) that have been crackled. They seem to have picked-up on beizen methods around 1997—and have produced quite a few since that time.

The fallout is that many materials that are artificially-colored are called "dyed" by people who don't understand the differences—and some of these (or MANY) are beizen.

I have been educating people about this since 1978. But change is slow.



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Magnesite
Re: Identifying beads -- Penelope Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
03/13/2021, 07:42:51

That’s my guess- matrix, when present on magnesite, is this strange brown color. Matrix on howlite is a telltale gray. Remember when “ white Buffalo turquoise” was a thing in the market? That was ivory white magnesite with matrix.. It made a little splash for a time. The white areas where the dye “ missed” are a new thing for me. As Uncle Russ used to say....” no turquoise was harmed in the creation of these beads...”



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Re: Magnesite
Re: Magnesite -- Joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/13/2021, 13:20:44

What you suggest is nearly correct.

The contrived "matrix" on magnesite imitations is typically brown—as it is for quite a few varieties of actual turquoise, and particularly a lot of (but not all) Hubei Chinese turquoise. The "matrix" effect on magnesite is not "a strange brown." It is a typical brown for the material it imitates.

Whereas, as I mention, the natural matrix lines of howlite are wispy and gray—and usually look very different from both real turquoises and magnesite imitations.



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Re: Identifying beads Dyed Magnesite?
Re: Identifying beads -- Penelope Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
05/20/2021, 22:42:30

Possible it's Dyed Magnesite. I found this ad and you can see the white patches. I would say Howlite and Magnesite are likely candidates.

https://www.theatlanticbeadcompany.ca/magnesite-variegated-dyedturquoise-10mm-round.html

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

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