The Black Gem from Haida Gwaii

Selection of Argillite Carvings by Haida Artists

Selection of Argillite Carvings by Haida Artists


Visitors to Haida Gwaii and collectors of native Canadian art have always been drawn to the magnificent artistic creations by the Haida people. 

One such artwork of interest is carved argillite, which is a type of black slate found only in the northwestern islands of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. This stone has a very fine grain and is carved exclusively by Haida artists. 

Its connection to these islands, and limited quantity make carved argillite a special souvenir for visitors to Haida Gwaii and collectors of aboriginal art. 

Argillite has been carved for centuries by the Haida, including the late Haida artist, Bill Reid, and is known as the black gem of Haida Gwaii. This stone is used to create jewellery pendants, beads and earrings, as well as carvings depicting ancient Haida myths, small totem poles and bentwood boxes. 

How to Select the Perfect Piece of Argillite Jewellery from Haida Gwaii 

Our customers seek out carved argillite for themselves or as a gift for family and friends. With a variety of designs to choose from, such as eagle, raven, bear, sea lion, hummingbird, killer whale, salmon, halibut and moon, it can be challenging to choose the right motif. 

We encourage customers to choose the design they are most drawn to. During your stay on Haida Gwaii perhaps you encountered a regal eagle or an enchanting raven, and feel connected to this animal. The designs are gender neutral and can be worn by man or woman of all cultures. Each piece is unique and should be selected based on personal preference, aesthetics and intuition.  

In Haida culture people are born or adopted into one of two clans, the raven clan or the eagle clan. Within each clan families are given crests, such as bear or the three-finned killer whale, that they use in traditional clothing, jewellery, artwork and performance. 

Each purchase of carved argillite jewellery carries a story of appreciation and respect for Haida culture, tradition and connection to the natural environment of Haida Gwaii.

Other elements present in Argillite Jewellery

Argillite pendants and earrings are often accented with additional elements. A red stone, called pipestone or red argillite, is used for inlay. Carvers also use small pieces of mother of pearl or abalone shell to highlight eyes and other carved features. 

How to clean Argillite Jewellery

Argillite is enhanced by its wearer. The body’s natural oils contribute to argillite’s shine when touched and worn. Argillite can also be lightly dusted with a dry paper towel. 

Wear with Care

This special stone should be worth with care. Do not wear in the shower or drop on hard surfaces. 

Purchasing Argillite in Haida Gwaii

Crystal Cabin works with a variety of argillite carvers to offer one of the best selections of carved argillite in the pacific northwest. We invite you to view our selection of argillite pendants, beads, earrings and carvings on our website :

The argillite we sell is found only in Haida Gwaii and is hand quarried and backpacked down a mountainside trail by local artists. 

Have any questions? Feel free to contact us by phone at 1-250-557-4383 or by email at