Howlite: Gemstone and Jewelry


Howlite is a calcium borosilicate mineral that was first discovered in Nova Scotia in 1868 by the Canadian geologist, Henry How. It is an opaque, white gemstone with grey or black veins running through it. Howlite was first used as a decorative material in turn-of-the-century woodwork, but it is now mainly used for jewelry making. This article will explore the history, properties, and uses of howlite in jewelry making.



History of Howlite: 

Henry How originally discovered howlite as a material that resembled another mineral called apatite. However, it was quickly recognized as a distinct mineral and was subsequently named after him. The original deposits of howlite were found in Nova Scotia, but since then it has also been found in other parts of Canada, as well as the United States, Mexico, and Russia.

Howlite was not used in jewelry making until the 20th century. Its main use for decorative purposes was in the production of cabochon and carved ornamental objects. The first howlite mines appeared in the United States in the 20th century. The first mine was established in California in the 1920s, in what is now known as the San Bernardino County. Since then, howlite has become a popular choice for jewelry designs, especially for its affordability and unique veining.



Properties of Howlite: 

Howlite is a relatively soft mineral with a Mohs hardness of 3.5. It is not particularly durable and can be easily scratched or chipped. However, howlite is a porous mineral, which makes it easy to dye or color. This property gives gemstone and jewelry creators a unique ability to customize howlite into various shades and colors.

One main advantage of howlite is its affordability. It is relatively cheaper than other gemstones, yet has similar qualities. Howlite ranges in price depending on the color, size, and quality of the stone. Its white color with dark veins, similar to marble, makes it suitable for many designs.

One of the main uses of howlite in jewelry making is to imitate other gemstones. For example, dyed howlite is often used to imitate turquoise because of its similar blue-green color. However, howlite can also come in its natural white form with black/gray veins, which can give a unique and distinctive look to any jewelry piece.

Some common treatments for howlite include dyeing or enhancing its color. There are also some treatments, such as impregnation with plastic or resin, which make the stone more durable. These treatments can have an impact on the final price of the gemstone.



Uses of Howlite in Jewelry Making: 

Howlite is usually used for jewelry making in cabochon form, meaning it is polished and often shaped into a dome before it is set into a jewelry piece. Because of howlite’s softness, it can easily be cut into any shape to create any desired jewelry designs. Howlite can be set in any type of jewelry pieces such as rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants or bracelets. One advantage of using howlite in jewelry making is its versatility.

Howlite can be dyed or enhanced to create a wide range of colors and patterns, and this can be an advantage to designers and customers looking for unique pieces. This makes howlite jewelry a stylish and affordable option for those seeking to wear jewelry that looks unique and striking. Howlite has become very popular in bohemian and modern styles of jewelry.

Okkido, a Japanese brand, has made a collection of howlite jewellery called ‘Howlite Goddess’ which consists of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. The inspiration for this collection is the ancient Greek mythological figure of the goddess, Athena. This collection features howlite stones as the centerpiece, representing wisdom, clarity, and peace which are qualities that Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom possesses.

Another popular use of howlite in jewelry making is as a pairing for other gemstones. Howlite can look elegant when it is combined with other gemstones such as lapis lazuli, turquoise, moonstone, and amethyst. These combinations can create unique pieces of jewelry that can match any style. One of the most popular trends in the 21st century is layering necklaces. Howlite can be used in this trend as it can be easily layered with other gemstones or metals, creating a chic and trendy look.




Howlite has a rich history since its discovery in the 19th century. It has been widely used in decorative material and later in jewelry-making. Howlite’s affordability and versatility make it a popular choice for jewelry designers, who can easily cut it into any shape or size. Moreover, howlite’s unique patterns and veining together with its flexibility to dye, make it perfect for matching with any gemstones. Overall, howlite is a popular choice for those looking to build beautiful and stylish jewelry pieces on a budget.


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