Why is Italian Marble So Desirable?

michelangelos_pieta_st_peters_basilica
Michelangelo’s philosophy of artistic creation motivated him to use the best marble in the world for his sculptures. He believed that quarries in Carrara, Italy—located in the northwest corner of Tuscany—fit that description.

Though marble is quarried in many countries, it is closely identified with Italy, where marble formations are spread throughout the land. Italy has many of the finest marbles in the world, having stood the test of time in some of the most famous places in the world. For centuries, Italian marble been transformed into stunning works of art by the world’s most-famous artists, architects and designers, and the demand for Italian marble is high around the globe.  Marble stones can be found in different geographical areas and in different countries, so what makes Italian marble so special?

Italian marble has earned its reputation primarily because the quarries in Italy have access to some of the best raw material in the world. Italian quarries also have  the highest standards for quality control – everything from selecting and cutting the blocks to packaging and shipping is done with precision. Italian know-how in stone processing and production of new manufacturing technologies, as well as in innovation and design, is the added value that makes Italian marble competitive all over the world today.

The most desirable Italian marble varieties are Carrara, Calacatta and Statuario. To the untrained eye, these stones may all look like the same type of white marble. To confuse matters even more, Calacatta is quarried in Carrara, Italy. Here is nutshell description of the three types of marble:

CARRARA MARBLE

Carrara marble is grayish-white and the veining is smaller and finer. Although Cararra can have have some large and dramatic veining like Calacatta, it will also has many fine feathery lines.

Steveston Townhouse
                                          Carrara marble – Photo by The Spotted Frog Designs 

Calacatta Marble

Calacatta marble is a rarer than Carrara and is more white than gray. Large, dramatic veining is a trademark of Calacatta and the patterns tend to be bigger and bolder than Carrara.  While Calacatta is defined by the whiteness of its background, it can have brown and gold undertones.

Calacatta Gold
Calacatta Gold – by Prestige Marble & Granite

Statuario Marble

Statuario (or Statuary) is the most precious marble variety found in Italy. It contains the subtle gray hues found in Carrara with similar gray veining that you’ll find in Calacatta slabs. This stone is a very bright white in color, also making it the white marble par excellence and incredibly valuable. While Statuario is haled in Italy for being the perfect marble for carving statues, it is also a highly sought after material for residential and commercial projects.

Claremont Park
Statuario marble – Photo by Melissa Miranda Interior Design

 

Here at Prestige Marble and Granite, we only select the best marble slabs – the rarest, the most unusual – the one in a thousand. The slabs with the most gorgeous veining and most pleasing patterns are the ones you’ll find in our designer showroom. You can count on us to have the finest stones available for a look that’s unique and characteristic of your personal style. 

What is a Vein-Cut Stone Slab?

 

Sequoia vein cut granite

There’s nothing like vein-cut stone to give a soothing, zen-like ambience to an interior. Flowing, linear striations give a sense of effortless, ongoing flow, like the currents in a river or the undulations of the ocean waves. The look is very popular and used with many design styles, but what exactly is a “vein cut” slab?

Vein-Cutting Explained

Stones that will eventually become your countertops are originally cut from the quarry in the form of a massive block. Veins of minerals run through the block of stone. These mineral veins (each of a unique color and texture) run through the block of stone and will give the future countertops their pattern and character. The character is inherent in the stone itself, but the pattern is determined by what direction the stone block is sliced.

In the vein-cut process, the block of stone is cut along the grain, which will show the layers of sediments and horizontal veining. In contrast to vein-cutting, isthe cross-cut process, in which the slabs are cut across the grain. This is also referred to as a “fleuri” cut because it reveals a flowery, more circular vein pattern, instead of the striped pattern of the vein-cut stone.

Whether you’re going for a traditional, classical look or a sleek, contemporary design, there’s just no substitute for the beautiful banded look of vein-cut natural stone!

When it comes to your countertops, Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

 

Prestige Marble & Granite Looks at Kitchen Design Details: Countertop Edges

The renowned architect and designer Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” This couldn’t be more true than when designing a kitchen. It’s the details that make a kitchen unique. Each little choice you make integrates to create the finished design. If you have endured a major remodel, you know the small choices can be agonizing – selecting an edge profile for your countertops can be one of these difficult choices.

While the machinery and tools available in modern fabrication shops allow for many unique edge designs, here’s a quick look at some of the options available in each of three major categories, straight edges, curved edges, and fancy edges.

Straight Edge Profiles

Straight edges are great in any style kitchen and are especially appropriate for clean-lined and simple designs. All straight edges are actually slightly eased or rounded in order to reduce the sharpness of your countertop and to help protect the stone from damage. The amount of rounding you choose can significantly change the look. The top edge can be very rounded and the bottom squared as in the Radius edge. Or it can just barely have the edge softened.

Countertop edge profiles: straight

Note the extra thick straight edge countertop on the island below. It is likely a standard 2cm or 3cm with a mitered frame around the sides, making the slab look much thicker.

Traditional Kitchen
Traditional kitchen with straight edge countertops

Curved Edge Profiles

Curved edges can be plain or they can get quite fancy.  They soften the feel of the room and work just as well in just about any design style. Curves are easy to clean and are also safer option options if you worry about little heads getting bumped!

Curved countertop edge profiles

 

Rounded countertop edge
This rounded edge detail is a timeless classic, great for traditional kitchens.

Fancy Edge Profiles

 

Use a fancy edge if you really want to make a statement with your countertops. Because fancy edges are so attention grabbing, they are usually reserved for islands that are designed to be a focal point. Fancy edges are beautiful but remember less is sometimes  more – fancy edges can become overwhelming if overused.

Fancy edge profiles for stone countertops

Fancy edge countertop
The double ogee on the curved island makes for a beautiful focal point!
These are just some of the many kinds of countertop edges out there! Come visit our indoor showroom and speak with our staff to learn about the different edge profiles available.They can also help you make the right choice for your design and for your lifestyle!

Wondrous Waterfalls

Waterfall countertops have been rising in popularity recently, and we have to admit we love them (when they are installed properly!). A waterfall countertop ‘falls’ off the edge of a set of cabinets, creating the appearance of a continuous surface that blends from the top surface down the side. While the look is mostly a style choice, there are actually some practical reasons for installing them.

Prevents Scratches and Dings
End panels on typical wood islands and cabinets are usually high located in traffic areas, making them susceptible to scuffs, scratches and dings. Natural stone sides will withstand the abuse, keeping your island and cabinets looking pretty and new.

Hidden Storage
The waterfall can be used to hide appliances or create hidden storage space for any number of items.

Protects Against Water Damage
Waterfall counters aren’t exclusive to the kitchen. They can be integrated on bathroom cabinetry to cover and protect against water damage and splashing.

What better way to create a gorgeous, yet practical focal point in your home than with a sleek waterfall countertop? And whatever your personal design preference –traditional, rustic, modern, European, or farmhouse – waterfalls offer a truly distinct accent to any space. Here’s a look at few of our favorites for inspiration.

Rye, NY Home
Kitchen + Bath Artisans
Los Angeles Hills Modern Kitchen
Santa Clara
Current Showhome - 39 Watermark Road
Hudson Loft, NYC
Bird Key Contemporary
Corona del Mar Ocean Front
Richard Lane
Parsons Green House
Kitchens...the heart of the home
New Potomac residence
Westchester, NY
Westchester Dream Home
Fisher & Paykel
Park Lane Residence

Get even more waterfall countertop inspiration our Pinterest board!

We hope you have enjoyed this look at waterfall countertops fashioned from a variety of naturals stones in a myriad of styles. If you’re thinking of taking the waterfall plunge, you can be assured that the natural stone pros at Prestige Marble & Granite have the knowledge and experience to fabricate and install perfectly mitered waterfalls with a seamless appearance. Come browse our Columbia showroom and see for yourself! 

 

How to Choose the Best Lighting to Enhance Your Granite or Marble Countertops

If you have invested in marble or granite countertops (or are planning to), don’t forget the important role your lighting plays when it comes to displaying your beautiful new countertops in their best light.

When considering how to best illuminate your under cabinet countertops, understand that the cabinetry will create dark shadows that will cause your countertops to recede into the background and blend in with your backsplash. Ceiling lighting won’t reach your countertops, but under cabinet light fixtures will not only give you excellent task lighting, they will illuminate the stone, calling attention to the textures and colors, and creating a little sparkle because light is reflected by the quartz crystals that are inherent in both marble and granite.

When selecting your under cabinet lighting, be aware that marble or granite countertops can create a mirrored effect. Avoid light fixtures that reflect directly onto your countertop by choosing fixtures that have a lens over the light bulb to minimize reflections. Also, consider the color, as dark countertops will absorb more light – you’ll want to make sure your fixtures give off enough light.

There are two main types of under cabinet lighting: linear (or strip) and puck. Linear fixtures are long and thin, and will distribute light more evenly across the countertop. They are designed to fill up the space beneath each cabinet cavity and are sold in standard increments of length. If you go with linear, you should try to select the longest light fixture that will still fit under your cabinet.
John Willis Homes

Linear or strip lighting – Photo by brendamayton

Puck lights are small, circular light fixtures that create pools of light on the kitchen countertop. If you decide to go with puck lights, make sure to install one puck light for every six to ten inches of space.

Burnaby Kitchen
Under cabinet puck lights – Photo by SKG Renovations 
For kitchen islands, the best lighting fixtures for tasks and enhancing your marble or granite countertops are pendant lighting, either several smaller fixtures, or one over-sized fixture. They are a great solution for providing adequate task lighting while also providing an opportunity to enhance the kitchen design. Typically pendants should be placed 28 to 34 inches above the countertop, or 72 inches above the floor.
PMG Kitchen
Island with pendant light

When it comes to your countertops, Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

What’s New at Prestige Marble & Granite

New arrivals in showroom

Here at Prestige Marble & Granite, we’re always on the prowl for new inventory in order to bring you the best and most beautiful in natural stone for your interior design projects. We literally search the world for the best quality stone with the most attractive coloration and patterning. From classic colors to exotic and rare, we’re able to offer our customers vast selections to suit any decorating style, personal taste, and budget. Here’s a look at some of our latest acquisitions. (Keep in mind that pictures don’t exactly convey the true colors and beauty of the stones, and patterns within a color will vary from slab to slab. We invite you to visit our showroom to view these unique beauties in person!)

BETULARIE

Beautiful Betularie is an exotic Brazilian granite characterized by warm, earthy tones of gold, cream, taupe and brown. Darker black or gray veins highlight the movement and character of this exquisite stone, with varying flecks of mica and quartz giving the stone a reflective sparkle.

Betularie slab

Betularie Detail

OLYMPUS WHITE

The brilliant white background of stunning Olympus White granite is highlighted by dramatic black and grey veins punctuated with rich chocolate brown mineral deposits. This ancient stone has a very modern wow factor!

Olympus-White-slab

Olympus Detail

MONT BLANC

With its sugary crystalline appearance, Mont Blanc marble has a soft, organic vibe. The white background is accented with soft flowing veins of dark to medium gray.  Mont Blanc marble is an elegant choice for your most sophisticated spaces!

Mont Blanc marble slab Mont Blanc marble detail

ALASKA WHITE

Alaska White granite is a beautiful stone that combines stunning icy whites with browns and greys to create complex, dynamic patterns. This stone can easily transcend design styles, going from contemporary and modern to vintage or traditional.

Alaska White slab Alaska White detail

These four beautiful selections are just a few in our extensive collection of designer stones! We offer the largest selection of the highest quality, rare and exotic natural stones available in Middle Tennessee – we would love for you stop by the Prestige Marble & Granite showroom and browse any time.

Company News: Day Trip to Decolores Mármores e Granitos in Brazil

Prestige Marble & Granite

IMG_1368 2 copyby Aaron Cook

We’ve had a busy Spring, filled with exciting trade shows and events, the acquisition of super-cool new equipment, and shopping for truckloads of beautiful and unique new stones. One of the highlights of our Spring Renewal was a day trip to an ornamental stone factory in Brazil. While granite does come out of the ground (quarries, to be exact), the huge chunks of rock (and I mean HUGE) have to be cut and processed before they end up in showrooms like Prestige Marble & Granite.  It was such an interesting experience – Brazil stands out for being the country with the greatest diversity of ornamental stones in the world, besides having one of the largest existing reserves – and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience it first-hand and to share what I have learned with our customers!

Decolores Mármores e Granitos
A stunning first impression of Decolores MáMores e Granitos!

This Brazilian factory, Decolores Mármores e Granitos, is located in the municipality of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, in the state of Espírito Santo. The town is the economic hub of southern Espírito Santo, and is the most important producer of marble and granite in Brazil.

Our factory tour began inside, with the attractive stone-filled offices.

Then, the real fun began, as our tour moved out into the factory. Here’s a look at the fascinating Pedrini machine. It uses diamond wires to cut massive blocks of stone into 28 slices, 1-1/4″ thick, in just four to six hours. The water flows constantly to keep the wires from burning up, but it is 100% recycled, so there is zero waste.

Another interesting factory show to watch was the resin-filling process. Some (not all) of the exotic stones are filled with resin because they have natural micro-fissures. The resin is applied with a squeegee-like tool, and the slabs are then run through a special convection oven on a conveyer to cure. The process fills the minute cracks, improving the qualities of the natural stone and ensuring that your beautiful stone is virtually free of defects.

It was just amazing to see these huge cut and uncut blocks of stone!

Cut and uncut blocks of stone

And did I mention the fabulous view?

Cut and uncut blocks of stone

 

We’re your Middle Tennessee source for high quality, rare and exotic natural stones. We have something for every taste and every budget. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!