The Tucson Gem Show folded its tents late last week. Vendors with everything from precious gems to barrels full of rocks have moved on to other corners of the globe, and have left we designers to our shining palettes.
At the Gem Mall on its final day, I found a table full of VERY bright stones that caught my eye, the same way a fluorescent hummingbird does when it flits through my backyard. The oranges and hot pinks were too garish for my tastes, but I did like the turquoisy-green strand of Hawaiian Island-shaped stones, and reached into my back pocket one last time. (Every dollar I spent that day was technically over-budget spending).
The stones were clearly dyed—colors like that just don’t exist in nature—and I recognized strands of dyed howlite. Howlite is a naturally white gemstone that has dark gray or black veins running through it. I’ve seen it dyed turquoise, and have even used it. But what I ultimately purchased wasn’t named “howlite” by the vendor, and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what it is besides dyed.
Unfortunately the vendor’s native tongue was one other than English and she had the same answer to “what is this called” to every strand I presented for identification. And no form of the word “howlite” came from her lips. I couldn’t understand WHAT she called it, so I asked her write the name on the bag. She wrote: “Magensay.”
The only word close I came up with is “magnesium,” but I’d bet what little money I have left in my pockets that magnesium is a metal not a stone. This stone has a polished surface and rough edges that look a lot like my old friend howlite. Instead of gray or black spider-like markings in the cross section, however, the lines are golden. This could be a result of the dying, but I’m just not sure. So, I’m at a loss.