Everything You Need to Know About White Buffalo Stone

Posted by Tony Otteson on

White turquoise or sacred white buffalo is an integral part of Native American culture, read below to find out more about it!

Modern America is widely known for being a rich blend of many cultures, but this development is particularly new. Before European colonization, America was home to many diverse tribes of Native Americans. Each tribe had its own unique spiritual believes, and distinctive culture, and sense of style. In a world without bank lockers and steel safes, wealth had to be both secretive and portable, and jewelry was more of a bank account than it was decorative.

The production of Native American jewelry began as early as 12,000 years ago. Paleo-Indians altered materials like stones and shells into wearable jewelry and tribes across America generously followed suit with the materials available to them. Animal and fish bones were vigorously carved into ornate pendants, shells, while stones and coral used to be chipped into tiny beads for beautiful necklaces and clothing embellishments. Buffalo jewelry emerged as one popular kind among different styles. Native American tribes today continue to craft beautiful pieces of jewelry with modern materials like titanium, platinum, and gold.

The jewelry created by Native American tribes wasn’t much different from the various types of jewelry worn by Americans today. Necklaces could be as complex but attractive as interwoven strands of beads or as simple as a carved stone pendant hung on a jute or leather string. Men and women wore rings, chokers, bracelets, and earrings to signify their status. Breastplates and Ornate headdresses were pieces dedicated to being worn for participation in special ceremonies. Wampum, a special kind of shell bead, was used for necklaces and belts, although it didn’t become popular trading until after the arrival of European settlers.

Sacred White Buffalo Turquoise – Its Origin

Sacred buffalo or white buffalo turquoise was and still is one famous gemstone used in jewelry. Now, many people are not yet clear what exactly White Buffalo Turquoise is? Sacred Buffalo Stone, White Buffalo, and White Turquoise are the terms often used to describe a Black and White Stone found in Native American Jewelry.

Over past years, we have seen many names emerge for White Buffalo Stone as well as many other stones misrepresented as White Turquoise with some newcomers 'White Mountain' and'White Horse Turquoise.'

Although there are some disagreements and disputes over 'White' Turquoise (according to the mineralogists), yet it is a beautiful stone that has become popular amongst Native American Silversmiths and Jewelry Designers for buffalo jewelry. White Buffalo Stone was first discovered in the farthest edge of the Dry Creek Turquoise vein. This is majorly the reason why it is referred to as 'Turquoise,' taking on a simplistic term at the mining site.

Its Composition and Color

Mineralogist says it lacks any particular metal in its composition (which is known to give the turquoise color). Blue Turquoise forms where there is copper element present, while Green turquoise forms where there is iron present. We actually have had some buffalo stones from the middle of this vein, where there is a visible hint of greenish or bluish color into cream with beautiful patterns of golden brown matrix.

Most mining operations, regardless of any specific stone mining, have a consistent characteristic or norm that is visually associated with it. In reality, the total amount of stones mined from any same location or vein can have variant colors and matrix variations making it extremely difficult to identify what specific Turquoise it is truly.

White Buffalo Stone is stunning with its striking black & white contrast, and to our knowledge, this is the only unique vein in the world. Because this stone is most commonly referred to as White Turquoise, you will find many jewelry options with the same term.

Facts about White Buffalo Stone

Here are some of the most interesting facts that this historic, rare mining has unearthed about the white buffalo stone we all know and love:

  • -There is no such thing as “White Turquoise” this type of stone is known as “White Buffalo Stone.”
  • -The trade name of “White Buffalo” is used to identify the stone from the Tonopah, Nevada mine owned by the Otteson family.
  • -“The main mineral in white buffalo stone is Calcite. But depending on the crystalline structure of the Calcite, it morphs into minerals called Dolomite or Aragonite. With a high silica content, this stuff cuts incredible cabs.” – Otteson Brothers
  • -Various other white stones that are erroneously called “White Turquoise” are also sold as buffalo imposters, which include howlite and magnesite.

Bottom line

The history of Native American jewelry is very brief, which includes shares from people of different tribes and different ornaments and gemstones. A few gemstones like white buffalo, turquoise, onyx, and many more are still very popular among modern jewelry designers. At the Silver State Turquoise, we offer an extensive collection of White buffalo Silver Jewelry and wearable craft in various fashionable designs and price points to meet many personal styles. Our White Buffalo Jewelry Collection is always evolving as new jewelry pieces are created.

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  • Is there a way to ensure you are purchasing calcite and not being fooled into purchasing howlite?

    Cori Robertson on
  • Thank you for the clarification and explanation. When I first started seeing some vendors selling “white buffalo turquoise” it greatly annoyed me because I knew, even with my very basic understanding of mineralogy that true turquoise cannot be white. I also knew there was howlite on the market being advertised this way (as opposed to the dyed howlite meant to look like turquoise). Now I understand better that “white buffalo stone” is the better name. (Oddly enough my husband and I visited Tonopah this past July 4th weekend for Westercon, a western regional science fiction convention that happens every year around the 4th. It was a fun small convention and I found the town of Tonopah quite delightful.)

    AmyB on
  • Dear Sir: Can you get howlite turquoise made in America or is there only china?

    Wayne on
  • I have a ring like this that I bought 70 years ago. It is still beautiful. Wear it most all time, think I got it in Ok.

    Carlene Bishop on
  • Thank you for the information. I love white buffalo jewelry and I’ve been fooled before. Now I’ll be more careful when buying it. Thank you,


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