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What is White Buffalo Turquoise?

When you hear turquoise gemstones, you would automatically think about stunning shades of blue, green, sometimes yellow or orange, and even brown. However, a new kid-on-the-block, known as White Buffalo, has jewelry-smiths scratching their heads wondering if it is actually turquoise or not?

Disclaimer: I am not a geologist nor claim to be one. The information here is what I have gathered on the Internet from a number of sources and from lapidary experts. I took a special interest to understand what “White Buffalo” is and if it is actually turquoise. Feel free to do your own research. If you find that some of this information is incorrect, feel free to contact me.

History of White Buffalo Turquoise

This semi-precious black and white stone is found frequently in Native American jewelry. It was first discovered in the Dry Creek Turquoise Mine in Tonopah, Nevada by the Otteson family in 1993. (Watch “Turquoise Fever Show” on streaming to learn more about the Otteson family.)

Turquoise and White Horse

This white and black stone was found among turquoise veins and it was assume to be turquoise. However, by definition turquoise contains copper (it is a copper aluminium phosphate), which is what gives the characteristic blue color. Presence of more iron (and some say aluminum) will shift the color towards green. The Otteson’s White Buffalo classification is magnesite and alumite – so it is not technically turquoise.

Why is this stone called White Buffalo?

The name derives from the Native American belief that white buffaloes are pure and rare. Lacking the defining blue and teal colors of classic turquoise, the black spider webbing and chert patterns encased in this pure white stone, made it as rare as white buffaloes.

After the Otteson’s decided to call this white stone “‘White Buffalo”, and once introduced into the gemstone market, the white buffalo was a hit to jewelry artists. According to sources, even before the results of the material’s testing have not been released yet, white buffalo got so popular and it has already stuck among buyers and sellers as White Buffalo, White Buffalo Turquoise, and sometimes even White Turquoise.

Is White Buffalo actually turquoise?

The Otteson’s White Buffalo classification is magnesite and alumite – with no copper present. As mentioned above turquoise contains copper (it is a copper aluminium phosphate), which is what gives the characteristic blue and green color. Therefore it is not turquoise.

White Buffalo is a mostly clean white calcite/quartz mix with black chert inclusions (matrix) that are more sharply defined as opposed to being smutty. The better stones have clear delineations of black and white.

What exactly is White Turquoise?

Authentic or Rare White Turquoise generally comes from Arizona and Nevada, USA. Although it is called White Turquoise, there is a slight tint of blue or green color from the minerals in the rock that actually make the material test as authentic Turquoise. For example, Sacred Buffalo (Dry Creek Turquoise) has a very slight tint of clear blue; Tortoise has a slight tint of green and so on. So in other words White Turquoise is actually a very pale blue or green turquoise stone. It will not have the pure white color as in White Buffalo stones.

Then we have White Turquoise, which is not turquoise but is made up of other gemstones like howlite, magnesite, and chalcociderite (a sister mineral to Turquoise).

Are all white and black spider web stones considered White Buffalo?

White Buffalo Stone

This is a tricky question and for the most part I would say yes. Again, White Buffalo is a marketing name that many folks use to describe pure white stones with black chert or black spider webbing in them. Though the Otteson’s White Buffalo is mainly a calcite and quartz mix, other stones like Howlite and Magnesite are sometimes called White Buffalo as they too have the pure white color with a black web matrix.

How is Howlite considered White Buffalo or White Turquoise?

White Howlite Stone
Howlite is a cream white calcium borosilicate hydroxide that has black, grey or dark-brown veins. It’s found in large nodules, which have a bit of a cauliflower look to them. The veining makes it look similar to many stones, such as turquoise and lapis as to why this stone is called White Buffalo or White Turquoise.

How is Magnesite considered White Buffalo or White Turquoise?

White Magnesite Stone

Magnesite is a mineral that forms in carbonate rocks rich in magnesium. Magnesite has a chalky, porous texture that is usually white with brown or grayish veins; some pieces also have a rare transparent crystal form. It too has been called White Buffalo or White Turquoise.

Is Wild Horse considered Turquoise?

Wild Horse Stone

Wild Horse, aka Crazy Horse Stone or Appaloosa Stone, is a mixture of magnesite and hematite (an iron mineral) and is found in Gila Wilderness Area in Southern Arizona. It got its name because it resembles a spotted brown and white paint horse.

Wild Horse or Crazy Horse does not contain copper for blue or iron for green coloring. The white coloring is more of a milky or creamy white. The color of its matrix is of varying shades of brown from dark to light from the host rock. The borders of white to color are often less defined, tending to be more mottled than that of White Buffalo.


The bottom line is White Buffalo and White Turquoise are marketing names used for white stones with black veins. They can either be howlite, magnesite, chalcociderite or very pale turquoise stones. The “Original White Buffalo” is from the Otteson’s mine near Tonopah, Nevada. If you love a particular stone for its white color and black matrix feel free to call it whatever you want.

So this brings us to the white and black matrix stones sold on this website that has been named “White Horse”.

Introducing White Horse Jewelry!

I was lucky enough to acquire a beautiful piece of howlite that easily took a nice polish with amazing gray and brown matrix. I have no idea where exactly the howlite is from, but it was a one-of-a-kind and makes an excellent stone for jewelry.

So if you are in the market for a White Buffalo or White Turquoise looking stone, check out our White Horse Jewelry.

White howlite carries a whole host of healing properties that help to soothe the mind, the body and the spirit. This calming stone is always ready to help cool down fiery tempers, slow down heartbeats and help us lead with wisdom.