In honor of Earth Day last week, we are going back to the roots and breaking down the raw beauty and magic of stone creation. Since the beginning of time, natural stone has been a part of life. It’s beauty and durability has been on display for ages, from the time of ancient Egyptian’s and their pyramids, through the Renaissance period’s infamous Michelangelo David sculpture. It is believed that many materials around today may be 300 to 500 million years old.
Now let us take you on a journey back through time and show you how nature creates art.
Stone is a natural solid formation of one or more minerals formed over millions of years through pressure. The minerals in stone came from the same liquid and gas minerals that formed the Earth. The Earth developed as a massive body of gas and liquid minerals that slowly cooled and condensed to a solid core. Through pressure, the Earth’s crust began to form and heavy minerals were forced down to the core of the Earth where they were trapped. As the crust got thicker, it squeezed around the inner core which created intense pressure and heat from within the Earth. Crystals and other solid forms began to grow from the mineral vapors that were being released. As the Earth’s crust began to expand and erode, heat and pressure pushed the solid minerals up to the Earth’s surface which formed colossal rock beds, which we refer to as “quarries.” The process to make these massive rock deposits took over one-hundred million years. Quarries are found all around the world, with the majority located in: Italy, Spain, Turkey, United States, Mexico, China, Taiwan, India, Greece, Canada, France, and Brazil.
There are over a thousand types of stone that have been quarried thoughout the centuries. The familiar natural stone types that are used today are identified through three categories: Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous.
Sedimentary Formation: Rock that has formed through the deposition and solidification of sediment, especially sediment transported by water (rivers, lakes, and oceans), ice ( glaciers ), and wind. Sedimentary rocks are often deposited in layers, and frequently contain fossils.
Metamorphic Formation: Rock that was once one form of rock but has changed to another under the influence of heat, pressure, or some other agent without passing through a liquid phase. The deeper the rock beneath the surface, the higher the grade and the greater the likelihood of stunning colour combinations. Slate, by contrast, is formed close to the Earth’s surface making it’s grade low by comparison. Marble, in contrast, comes from deep down in the Earth’s crust creating it’s striking features where it has been stretched, compressed and fractured.
Igneous Formation: Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava, often trapping complex and precious minerals within its structure. Their crystals can be seen as flowing layers or may occur randomly, both giving rise to wonderful effects when the surface of the stone is cut and polished.
Stone Species within each Category:
Completing the masterpiece
Blocks of stone are cut from earth with diamond studded, high speed equipment. Blocks are then moved into a a processing plant to be cut into slabs. High speed gang saws are used to slice the blocks into multiple slabs. A gang saw is fitted with several blades, typically about 12 to 15 feet long, that make simultaneous parallel cuts. On average, it takes about two days for a saw to cut a 20 ton block of stone. It is then sent through a polishing machine to add it’s desired finish. A polishing machine operates using spindles that rotate polishing pads at high speeds over the top of the stone. It can apply a polished, sand blasted, tumbled, flamed, sawn, bush hammered, honed, or leathered finish to the stone. During this stage, the slab is also calibrated, meaning its surface is worked down to a relatively uniform thickness across the length of the material.
Once ready for installation, a fabricator will customize the slab to meet the necessary aesthetic and space requirements. Edges are shaped and polished. This is done with a series of small saws, or router bits, which are, again, diamond studded and water-cooled. They rotate at high speeds and pass across the edge of the slab to shape the sides into the desired edge detail.
At Aria, everyday is Earth Day with nature’s artistic creations on display. From the remote mountainsides of far-flung, exotic destinations to the comfortable, classy interior of Aria Stone Gallery, we strive to consistently bring you the very best and most unique offerings from Mother Earth.
Marble Institute of America