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!

 

Spring Renewal at Prestige Marble & Granite

Vitoria Stone Fair 2016 in Brazil
Vitoria Stone Fair 2016 in Brazil – With over 25,000 visitors from 57 countries and more than 1200 types of rocks, this largest ornamental stone fair in Latin America showed the trends for 2016, as well as machines, equipment and supplies.
Aaron Cook at Stone Expo
Prestige owner Aaron Cook purchasing a new state-of-the-art polishing machine at the StoneExpo‬ in Las Vegas (part of the International Surface event, TISE)

Spring is a time for refreshing and renewing; and Prestige Marble & Granite is no exception. Our Spring renewal each year begins with attending national and international stone fairs and expos, where we meet with other industry pros and suppliers, get the scoop on upcoming trends for using natural stone in interior design, as well as learn about the latest and greatest in fabrication technology. After walking what feels like thousands of miles on convention hall floors and networking with hundreds of fellow “stone people,” our  Spring refresh culminates with a big buying trip, allowing us to bring you the best and most beautiful in natural stone for your interior design projects.

This year our Spring Renewal brings you four truckloads of stunning new stones! Here’s a look at some of our new favorites. ( 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!)

CREMA BORDEAUX

Crema Bordeaux slab

Crema Bordeaux is famous for its amazing colors and is often said to resemble the planet Jupiter with its swirling pink and cream patterns. While there is no standard predominant color for this granite, you can expect a combination of certain minerals and colors in varying levels of saturation. You’ll find creamy golden tones combined with red hues that range from soft pink to golden orange to rusty burgundy. Grey to dark blue mineral deposits ground the red tones, making this stunning stone easy to integrate in most any design scheme.

PURPLE DUNES

Purple Dunes slab

This distinctive granite from Brazil has dramatic veining in deep purples, golds, grays, creams, and browns. Purple Dunes is very durable, making it ideal for for interiors, well as landscaping projects and and outdoor kitchens in climates with freezing temperatures.

Life is Good

Life is Good granite

Don’t you love the soft, organic vibe of the directional veining in this blue marble? We’re wild about our new “Life is Good.” This stunning blue-hued slab has soft, but distinct diagonal streaks in shades of grey and beige, making it an elegant choice for both kitchens and baths.

VIENNA GRANITE

Vienna Granite slab

This beautiful slab of Vienna granite is fabulously modern in appearance with multi-directional veining and dramatic mineral deposits that really pop – giving the stone a modern edge. Vienna would be a stunning complement to any contemporary design!

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 and browse any time.

Magnificent Marble: A Look at Four Stunning Varieties

Parthenon in Greece
The columns of the Parthenon were made of Pentelic marble, a material that was utilized for the first time. Pentelic marble is flawless white with a uniform, faint yellow tint, which makes it shine with a golden hue under sunlight. The ancient quarry at Mount Pentelicus is now protected by law, and used exclusively to obtain marble for the Acropolis Restoration Project.

While marble has been used in building and sculpture since classical times, it’s no secret that this elegant stone is definitely having a moment in interior design. White Carrara marble has been a design trend for a few years, used on everything from surfaces to furniture and decorative objects; but with the luxury goods market coming out of its shell, it has become fashionable to accomplish an upscale design that’s also unique. When it comes to marble surfaces, whether as a bath vanity, kitchen countertop, or fireplace surround, there is now a trend towards having what’s unusual, instead of what’s more commonplace.

Prestige Marble & Granite specializes in the rare and precious stones that will ensure a luxurious, one-of-a-kind aesthetic. And while we’re still very fond of classic and elegant Carrara (Michelangelo’s David was carved from it!), here’s a look at four rare marble selections from our designer collection that are sure to make a style statement in your home.

(Keep in mind that pictures don’t exactly convey the true colors and beauty of the stone, and patterns within a color will vary from slab to slab. We invite you to visit our showroom to view these stunning marble examples in person!)

Calacatta Silver

Calacatta marble is precious and rare because it is only mined from one quarry in the world, high atop the mountains in Carrara, Italy. The quarry is hard to access in winter months, so it cannot be mined year around. Calacatta has a pure white background with thick, distinct veins that range in color from gray to brown and gold. It’s the bold unique pattern of this marble that makes it very desirable in all parts of the world. This gorgeous Calacatta Silver is just one variety of several Calacatta stones we have available.

Emperador Dark

Endowed with durability, as well as great beauty, Emperador Dark is a compact, fine-grained stone that allows multiple finishing. This sophisticated and elegant stone is extracted from the area around the town Novelda, Spain, a major center of the marble industry. Emperor Dark features a range of dark rich browns and grays, and it’s normal to see white crystals and veins that are concentrations of white and clear calcite.

Breccia Sarda

Breccia Sarda is a consistently dark cream or beige colored marble with well-distributed pinkish veining that harmonizes to create a soft, luxurious feel. This elegant and refined stone is extracted in the area of Orosei, in the region of Sardinia, Italy.

Sequoia

Sequoia marble from Italy is an exotic stone that stands out for its specific hardness. The coloring ranges from grey to soft brown and the beautiful veining that recalls wood grain makes this stone quite unique.

These four stunning marble 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 and browse any time!

Marble Mania: Calacatta vs Carrara

PMG kitchen with Calacatta
Calacatta Gold Countertops from Prestige Marble & Granite

Carrara or Calacatta? They’re both Italian, they’re both white with grey veining, and to confuse matters even more, much of Calacatta comes from Carrara. There are differences, however, and once you know what to look for, you should be able to distinguish between Carrara and Calacatta like a pro.

Calacatta Marble
Large, dramatic veining is a trademark of Calacatta and one of the most noticeable differences. The patterns tend to be bigger, bolder and more contrasting than Carrara marble. Another defining trait of Calacatta is the whiteness of the background. The whiter the material and the more “uniform” the veining, the more rare, and thus more expensive, the slabs. The look of Calacatta is luxurious and it should be because Calacatta is even rarer than Carrara.

This Calacatta slab with it’s dramatic grey veining makes a stunning fireplace surround.

This kitchen is clad in a variation of Calacatta that has warm gold veins mixed in. Calacatta Gold works well with both cool and warm tones.

Carrara Marble
You’ll notice the veining of Carrara is smaller and finer and the color is grayer over all. While Calacatta can vary in tones, Carrara is classically gray. Although Cararra can have have some large and dramatic veining like Calacatta, it will also has many fine feathery lines.

Carrara marble is the perfect choice for this unfussy, yet sophisticated kitchen.

Although the Carrara in this kitchen has some bold veining, unlike Calacatta, it is grayer and also has many fine lines.

While Calacatta feels more opulent than Carrara, that isn’t good or bad –it just depends on what type of room you’re designing. The subtler look of Cararra marble can still be used to create a very sophisticated look. Carrara is a classic, while Calacatta is a showstopper. They both look fabulous in kitchens and bathrooms, or anywhere you would like to add a touch of sophistication or elegance!

Photo Credits: Click on images to view sources.

Here at Prestige Marble and Granite, we only select the best Calacatta and Carrara slabs, the rarest, the most unique – 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. 

 

 

Counter Intelligence: What to Expect with Marble in the Kitchen

Prestige Marble and Granite kitchen

Always a classic, marble is certainly having a moment in interior design. It’s popping up in kitchen renovations everywhere, and for good reason. A beautiful marble countertop or backsplash will add a luxurious feel to a modern kitchen, and can produce an elegant note in a rustic one. The exquisite beauty of marble always makes for a stunning design statement that’s both complementary and bold.

You may have noticed that many stone salespeople and designers recommend granite for kitchens because they’re likely to stay in mint condition, even with sloppy housekeeping, while marble countertops can become scratched, stained, etched or dulled. Yet this hasn’t stopped cooks in Italy from rolling their dough on marble for centuries. And it certainly shouldn’t stop you from installing it in your own kitchen – provided you know what to expect.

Whatever the style of your kitchen, there’s sure to be a gorgeous marble that’s calling your name. If you’re considering taking the marble plunge, here’s what you need to know.

But first, a little history
When you know a bit about the underlying geology, the issues that can plague marble are a little easier to understand. Marble actually started out as limestone, which is basically calcium carbonate (mostly from shells) combined with silt from ocean floors. The buckling and shifting of the earth’s crust resulted in heat and pressure softening the limestone and causing it to recrystallize as a harder, denser material.

Staining
These crystals in marble are impervious to staining but the microscopic spaces between them can absorb watery and oily materials that can results in stains. By applying a penetrating sealer, you can narrow the voids and make them so small that liquids can’t flow through as quickly. The sealers made today gives you maybe 24 hours, versus 30 minutes, to wipe up spills before they lodge too deep for you to wipe them away.

Etching
Etching is physical damage to the marble that leaves a light and dull spot on the marble. It’s a corrosive action that occurs on all calcite-based stones (marble, travertine, limestone) upon contact with acidic substances like coffee, juice, soda, salad dressing, tomato sauce, vinegar, etc. There is no way to reverse this once it has occurred (although it may be technically possible to sand down a dull area and re-polish the marble), and since avoiding contact with acidic substances is nearly impossible in the kitchen, most people just accept there may be the occasional dull spot. You can think of a little etching here and there as “added character,” but to make etching less noticeable, consider buying marble with a honed surface rather than one that is highly polished. While honed marble isn’t quite as “formal” looking, it is exactly what you will find in most Italian kitchens!

Scratches
When it comes to scratch resistance, your best bet is to deal with a company that really knows stone. The Marble Institute of America has a rating system that identifies which marbles are hardest and least porous, but you may find that much of what’s offered for countertops isn’t rated. Asking a knowledgeable and reputable vendor which of the available marbles are most suitable for kitchen countertops is your best defense.

Prestige Marble and Granite offers an array of designer marble and granite suitable for kitchen countertops. Our knowledgeable staff is here to guide you in the selection of the stone best suited to your lifestyle and personal taste. We welcome your visit to our showroom anytime!