How To Tell if Howlite Is Real (3 Tips For Beginners)

Howlite isn’t fake. It’s a beautiful stone on its own. Still, jewelry dealers often use howlite is to imitate other gems. 

To find out why, check out this comprehensive guide. It’ll solve the mystery once and for all.

How To Tell if Howlite Is Real (3 Tips For Beginners)

What’s Howlite?

Howlite is a chalky white or gray borate mineral gemstone.

Most have brown, black, and gray veins running through them. But, there are rare ones that are all white.

Howlite grows in irregular nodules that look like cauliflower heads.

It’s known scientifically as silicoborocalcite.

But, in layman’s terms, it’s called white buffalo turquoise. 

In its natural form, howlite resembles porcelain or marble.

All three stones are opaque, with dark brown and black veins.

What’s the Chemical Composition of Howlite?

Researchers use the Mohs Hardness Scale to classify the hardness of minerals.

They determine its rating by testing whether one can scratch other minerals.

The rating scale goes from 1 to 10.

Stones with a max hardness rating range of 1-5 are soft stones.

Researchers give this classification to stones that easily sustain water damage.

They can crack or dissolve if left in water for long periods of time.

Hard minerals, from 5 to 10, are more durable.

Howlite is a calcium borosilicate hydroxide mineral and ranges from 2.5-3.5 on the Hardness scale.

Most borate minerals, like ulexite and borax, are soluble and soft.

They will break down, both on a molecular and structural level, when they get wet. 

There are some exceptions to the rule, but they are far and few between.

In this case, howlite has a happy medium.

You can place it in water, but only for short periods of time. 

How is Howlite Used?

Howlite, in its raw form, has several creative uses.

Artists use it to create several beautiful pieces.

These include home decor, cabochons, clothing beads, small carvings, and jewelry with it.

Sometimes, they cover it in resin to strengthen it.

Despite that, enthusiasts should never facet it.

These stones are popular with those who believe in the metaphysical.

They say howlite relieves stress, anxiety, and racing thoughts.

Meditators love it too. They believe it provides a link to their higher selves.

Howlite or Magnesite?

Howlite looks like magnesite.

Magnesite is another name for magnesium carbonate.

It forms in carbonate rocks that have a lot of magnesium. 

Magnesite has a porous chalky texture with white, gray, or brown veins.

But there are some rare ones that look like transparent crystals.

It has a hardness rating of (4-5) on the Mohs Hardness scale.

Even though it’s harder than magnesite, it’s still pretty soft. 

This soft structure makes it great for tumbling stones, cabochons, and making beads.

The chemical and the steel industries use it in its raw form to create:

  • Refractory material
  • Filler and catalyst when making synthetic rubber
  • Magnesium chemicals 
  • Slow-release fertilizers

Howlite vs Magnesite

Howlite and magnesite have several of the same characteristics:

  • Porous and easily absorbs dyes 
  • Weblike veins
  • Creative types use them to make jewelry and other pieces

Another similarity between the two stones is dealers dye and sell them.

Depending on the color, each can look like imitation turquoise, lapis lazuli, and coral.

But, there are some differences between howlite and magnesite:


  • Magnesite has a white or gray chalky exterior. Sometimes it has a brown or yellow tint. But, in its crystal form, it looks like glass. 
  • Howlite, on the other hand, looks more like porcelain. It’s very opaque.

Cleavage Grade

  • Cleavage grade is a rating that measures how easily a crystal can break along its lines. Similar to how wood breaks along its grain.
  • Both magnesite and howlite have crystal forms. But their cleavage grades are different. Magnesite has a perfect grade of cleavage and howlite doesn’t have one at all.

How to Tell Howlite and Magnesite Apart

Although hauntingly similar, there are several ways to tell magnesite and howlite apart:

  • Use a copper penny and scratch them both while applying heavy pressure. If the stone is magnesite, it’ll have a couple of scratches. If it’s howlite, it’s easy to see scratches and dents.
  • You can also put both rocks in your mouth. The one that doesn’t stick is magnesite. If it sticks, it’s howlite.
  • Yet another option is to place both rocks under black UV light. If it gives off a brownish yellow color, it’s howlite. If the rock has a bluish or greenish tint, it’s magnesite.

Keep in mind that fluoresce isn’t a reliable (albeit fun) stone identifier.

Some minerals emit different colors depending on what type of light researchers use. For instance, some stones will glow one color under long-wave UV light.

Some will grow another under shortwave light.

Still, others will glow different colors under the same light.

Why is Howlite Identification Important or Not?

Dealers often use dyed magnesite and howlite as substitutes for turquoise.

But, it’s easy to differentiate between them if you know what you’re looking for. 

For instance, turquoise has a hardness level of 5-6.

This means it’s harder than both howlite and magnesite.

So, if your turquoise stone scratches easily, it’s dyed howlite or magnesite. 

Another way to reveal the stone’s true nature is by wiping it with a cotton ball dipped in acetone.

This removes dyes and reveals the stone’s original white color.

The Bottom Line

Howlite is a soft stone with a porcelain or marble-like appearance.

Jewelers often enhance its natural beauty through jewelry making and other lapidary pursuits.

Dealers use howlite and magnesite to imitate other minerals. But, its natural beauty is enough.

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