Turquoise vs. Howlite: What's The Diff?

If your a bohemian princess or maybe just a gem junky you may have noticed the prevalence of faux Turquoise gemstones lurking all over the place. Fake Turquoise can come in many forms including, ceramic, plastic, resin and the list goes on, but one stone known as Howlite could very well be Turquoise's kissing cousin. So let's dissect the two.

Polished Howlite (Image from Wikipedia) Turquoise from Copper Mine in Cananea Mexico (Image from Wikipedia)

I myself use Howlite in some of my own designs, but have rarely given a thought to it's origins or how it comes to look so much like the real thing. Howlite or calcium borosilicate hydroxide lends a a high end gemstone look to jewelry without the high price tag. Discovered around 1968 by Henry How, Howlite is white or colorless in appearance, but because of its porous surface, it can easily be died blue. Turquoise is the perfect stone for Howlite to mimic because of the similar veining pattern found on both stones. As far as Turquoise is concerned, this veining is also known as "matrix". Matrix is the remains of the stone that originally hosted the Turquoise and created it after years oxidation. This natural process cannot be reproduced. You'll find the matrix lines on Turquoise in a brown, black or yellowish color.

Unlike Howlite, Turquoise has been considered a valuable gem for thousands of years. Recently slightly devalued do to imitations and fakes, Turquoise comes in blueish green and with different tone variations sometimes dependent upon the mine it is pulled from. So if you are in the market for some Turquoise here is what you should know:

  1. If it's too good to be true it probably is - If you think the price is low and your getting a steal, its probably a fake.
  2. Feel the matrix - Turquoise has a dark rough matrix. You should see rough dark lines and cracks.
  3. Color - Turquoise color varies from greenish to blueish and tone variation can occur within the stone.
  4. Genuine vs. Stabilized - Most all Turquoise found in jewelry is going to be considered "stabilized" or treated chemically. That's one way they get it to look all shiny and new. Even "stabilized" jewelry can be labeled "genuine." If it's labeled "reconstituted" buyer beware! It's probably not real.

If you're searching for true Turquoise online just note that it's sometimes hard to tell if your dealing with real or fake Turquoise by a picture alone. Always buy from a reputable dealer and if your not sure, ask the seller which mine their Turquoise came from. If they don't know...don't buy! If your looking for that turquoise look without the price, died Howlite is a great and stylish option. Get the look for less!

At Haute Bauble we have a great new selection of new gemstone bracelets! More styles to come.