Howlite

Howlite, a calcium borosilicate hydroxide, belongs to the borate family.

Canadian mineralogist Henry How discovered Howlite near Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1868, after miners in a gypsum quarry whined about the presence of an element that was harder to mine. He called the new mineral Silicoborocalcite, and shortly afterwards James Dwight Dana named it Howlite.

The Howlite stone, also named " white buffalo stone",  is commonly used to make decorative items such as carvings and jewelry components. Its porous texture can be dyed to imitate other minerals, notably turquoise. There is also a "white buffalo turquoise", which is an unrelated gemstone variant of turquoise that is white instead of the typical blue or green color. These stones are mined in Arizona and Nevada in the US. Since the white varieties of turquoise have a Mohs hardness of 1, and are not as hard or durable as Howlite, they must be stabilized as jewelry. As a result, Howlite remains more popular for jewelry making than the artificially stabilized white forms of the mineral turquoise, and it is often incorrectly marketed as "white turquoise". Howlite is, however, a very beautiful rock in its own right.

Formation

Howlite often comes from borax and evaporite deposits in the desert clays of California. The majority of the howlite on the market comes from Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, where there have been reports of large nodules as large as 50 kilograms. 

Properties

In its most common form, howlite consists of irregular, sometimes cauliflower-like nodules; crystals of howlite are extremely rare. Nodules have fine grey or black veins in an erratic pattern that looks like a web, and are opaque with a sub-vitreous luster. Howlite has a Mohs hardness of 3.5.

Symbolism: calm, relaxation

Howlite is considered a calming stone: it is traditionally believed to aid in the elimination of anger and rage. Placed in the pocket, the piece is believed to absorb anger from or directed toward the wearer. Howlite is used for meditation, as well. In traditional wisdom, it is suggested to hold it while meditating or when experiencing anger. 


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