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6 Ways to Create A Classically Current Design by Laura U Interiors

When it comes to interior design, it is always important to consider what’s trendy or “current”, as well as keeping in mind the quintessential building blocks that stem from “classic” design. This delicate balance of popular and proper are not better exemplified than through Houston-based visionary, Laura U. We interviewed designer extraordinaire Laura and got all the details behind her “Classically Current” technique. So scroll on down to learn 6 Ways to Create A Classically Current Design by Laura U Interiors!


Contrast 

Black and white, cream and gray…I prefer all of my designs to carry some tension. Opposites are timeless and this powder room exemplifies that. The white floating sink rests atop the Pietra Grey Leathered Marble counter, courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

 

Aria Stone Gallery’s Pietra Grey Leathered Marble Vanity. Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors.

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Doses of color

The lush green hues that saturate these chairs makes a true statement in this formal living room. I like to think of color as a foil to a neutral backdrop. It activates a space. To accentuate the green, we incorporate natural elements like marble and wood to ground the room.

Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors

Texture layering 

A Classically Current interior is one that authentically reflects the personal styles of the homeowners. In this high-rise living room, the collected feel of global travelers is felt throughout. Natural elements of wood, marble and stone layer against leather, silk, and warm terra cotta hues to create a luxe space.

Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors.

 

Incorporating the environment/natural surroundings

The blue and pink hues throughout this coastal home reflect the bright sunlight coming in from the beach. Taking a cue from the environment, we paired the interior of this home elegantly with the outside environment. For me, a Classically Current home belongs naturally to its surroundings, emphasizing the outdoors and bringing them inside.

Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors.

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Symmetry

Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors.

People are naturally drawn to symmetrical elements and these beautiful sconces accomplish that perfectly. Wallpaper by Lindsey Cowles is a great partner to the marble counter. All around, a very Classically Current space.

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Exceptional lighting

From the pendants over the granite countertop to the marble floors and large windows, this kitchen is full of light. Good lighting is very important to my Classically Current philosophy. It never goes out of style!

Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors.

Meet Laura U

Top Houston interior designer, Laura Umansky, has always had an appreciation for luxury interiors that are bold, unique, and remarkably curated. She founded the Laura U Interior Design firm to build beautiful legacies for her clients, treasured memories told through the art of high-end design and woven throughout every room of a home.

Image Courtesy of Laura U Interiors.

Without prescribing to any singular style, her Classically Current spaces are perfect reflections of her client’s personalities and joys. Client-centric and site-specific, a Laura U interior will always involve a bit of drama with a luxe romantic touch, bringing the environment inward and surrounding clients with what they love most.

Known for designing stunning homes all over the country, Laura has spent her life blending the beauty of art with the science of design. With over 15 years of industry experience and a background in architecture, Laura understands what it takes to execute an incomparable interior design project. She developed The Process of Design in order to keep her team organized, maintain projects on schedule, and deliver impeccable white glove service. Laura’s tailored process allows her team of interior designers to truly understand each client’s lifestyle, artfully shaping spaces that showcase every client’s unique story.


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Sterling McDavid’s Aspen, Colorado Oasis | Home Tour

Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis

Residing among the rolling mountains and abundant forests of Aspen, Colorado, an architectural masterpiece rose up from the soil. Initiating a seamless connection of the Aspen landscape to interior design, Sterling McDavid and Charles Cunniffe Architects partnered with Aria Stone Gallery to fill this jaw-dropping estate with plentiful amounts of natural stone by cladding showers, floors, fireplaces, countertops, walls and even ceilings!  Yes, ceilings cladded in quartzite! Now that is stellar, one of a kind design.

Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s Black Moon Onyx Bar | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

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Working closely alongside the homeowner, Aria provided carefully templated spaces featuring intricate designs of vein-matched stone, flowing effortlessly from seam to seam. This gorgeous, Calacatta Lincoln marble kitchen is just one example of how seamlessly the stone flows throughout each space.

Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Lincoln Marble Kitchen | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

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One of the most unique spaces, showcasing this flawless vein-matched design, is the basement spa which is completely clad from floor to ceiling in linear White Macaubas Quartzite. This durable stone was the perfect fit for the McDavid spa, since the Aria team knew this space would be enduring high temperatures and constant traffic.

Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s White Macaubas Quartzite Spa | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s White Macaubas Quartzite Spa | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

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Aria Stone Gallery provided a turn-key service by supplying all of the materials for the home making it easy, convenient and efficient for the McDavids. In addition to providing careful coordination and design, Aria also offers a custom option to source materials making our clients’ dreams come true. View the complete editorial feature in Luxe Interiors + Design Colorado here!

Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Vagli Marble Bathroom | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

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Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s Agata Granite Bathroom | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

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Aria Stone Gallery Sterling McDavid Aspen Colorado Oasis
Aria Stone Gallery’s Valley Gold Vein Marble Bathroom | Photography Credit: Aaron Leitz

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The constant pursuit of the perfect slab is what sets Aria’s collection apart as a unique stone boutique. Known as one of the strictest suppliers in the country, Aria only hand-selects first quality, unique slabs, 100% of the time, no exceptions.

 

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Behind the Stone: Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble

Much like any grand discovery, the unearthing of the rare and elegant Calacatta Macchia Vecchia did not occur overnight. Perfecting this beautiful Italian marble meant overcoming many trials, struggles and technological setbacks of the time period. Nonetheless, this unique stone comes with a backstory full of culture, perseverance and in the end, incredible success.

The Macchia Vecchia Marble Quarry. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

When Was Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Discovered?

The Calacatta Macchia Vecchia quarry is located among the “Marble Mountains” of Italy, within very close proximity of the town Torano. Although the exact time period is unknown, we do know that the discovery of what we now call Calacatta Macchia Vecchia was made between the end of the 17th Century and the beginning of the 18th Century.

The Macchia Vecchia Marble Quarry. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Excavating Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble

At the time of discovery, the excavation of marble blocks was very limited, as quarry crews did not have access to suitable machinery or tools. They utilized wedges and ice-axes, and were therefore only able to extract very small, misshapen blocks that required squaring by hand. Afterwards, the marble blocks were loaded in wagons or carts dragged by oxen. This process was extremely complicated and physically demanding, and the quarry ceased production after years of struggling.

In the 1950’s, the Macchia Vecchia quarry reopened when the helicoidal cable, a primitive version of the wire saw, was discovered. The first official owner of the quarry, Mr. Serri, worked tirelessly for many years to excavate pristine blocks of Macchia Vecchia without successful results. The low quality of marble produced combined with lack of technology eventually forced Mr. Serri to shut down the quarry and retire.

After 40+ years of extensive research and technology development, new owners Mr. Ribolini and Mr. Santi re-purchased the quarry and spent the first 5 years not excavating, but cleaning. They understood that in order to start fresh and produce the best possible quality of marble, they had to keep the levels clean and safe for their crews. They were finally provided with essentially a clean slate, and conditions in which they could extract large, blocks of white marble with luxurious flowing veins of gold and grey.

Aria Stone Gallery’s 3cm Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble A77. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Production and Use Today

As production increased and technology continued to develop, the brand-new, “Calacatta Macchia Vecchia” marble took off and people from all over the world longed to use it and experience its grandeur. Today, Mr. Santi and Mr. Ribolini remain active owners of the Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble quarry and extract between 2,500 and 2,800 tons per year. To prevent extensive damage to the surrounding landscape and ecosystem, they limit production in this specific area of the Marble Mountains, making Calacatta Macchia Vecchia a luxury and privilege to witness.

Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble has dramatically increased in popularity within the design world, as it resembles an elegant impressionist paining and flows well with all aesthetics. Its clean white canvas and golden undertones make a very attractive option for kitchens, bathrooms and bookmatched feature walls. Since Calacatta Macchia Vecchia is a marble, we do recommend sealing this stone if you plan to use it in an area of the home that gets a lot of traffic. This will protect it from scratching and etching, and keep it looking beautiful for years to come.

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble Pantry
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble Pantry. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Adventures in the Carrara Valley: Exploring Calacatta Borghini Marble
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Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian

From interior design to accessories, the beauty and mystery of Labradorite never fails to capture our attention among a diverse realm of applications. This stone comes packed with a unique blend of luxury, versatility and durability, and originates from exotic lands with the richest of cultures. Possessing the ability to be utilized far beyond the abilities of a gemstone, Labradorite has many defining traits that make it extremely valued to artists, jewelers and designers all over the world.

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
An example of the Labradorite gemstone used for jewelry. Image courtesy of Ambra Jewels.

What Is Labradorite?

Labradorite is a mineral that can be found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It has a hard crystalline structure and precious stone properties that are highly valued in both the stone and jewelry industries. Labradorite ranks about a 6-6.5 (similar to the hardness of granite) on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and is also known for possessing magic, healing and psychic powers.

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
Aria Stone Gallery’s Labradorite Bianca Granite Bathroom. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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One of the main defining traits of Labradorite is its capability of displaying a wide spectrum of colors through highly reflective crystal pockets (which can change as the stone is rotated). Labradorite gemstones usually have a dark blue or black base color with metallic pockets of sapphire, green, red, gold or aquamarine. The color play is iridescent like the feathers of a peacock.

This unique display of iridescent colors is known as Labradorescence, also referred to as the “eyes” of the stone. Labradorescence is caused by internal fractures that reflect light back and forth, dispersing it into different colors. Some stones have a more prominent Labradorescence effect than others, and that greater spectrum of color therefore increases the value of the stone.

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
Aria Stone Gallery’s Lemurian Baobab Granite. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery. 

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Due to its unique properties, Labradorite is quite rare and not typically seen among mass-merchant jewelers or stone suppliers. However, designers who specialize in unique and custom work, such as Tiffany McKinzie, often use it to create one-of-a-kind pieces of raw, natural art.

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
Aria Stone Gallery’s Lemurian Granite Table. Image and design courtesy of Tiffany McKinzie Interiors. 

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Labradorite and Lemurian Granite

Labradorite is often found in anorthosite, an igneous rock composed mostly of feldspar. Anorthosite is commonly used in the construction industry, and can be cut, polished and used for design and architectural purposes. Some samples of anorthosite rocks were even taken from the moon, and contain fragments of crystals!

Anorthosite is sometimes classified commercially as “black granite”. Aria Stone Gallery’s Lemurian Extra and Lemurian Baobab granites are both flawless examples of the marriage between anorthosite and Labradorite crystals.

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
Baobab trees on the island of Madagascar.

Originating from the exotic island of Madagascar, Aria Stone Gallery’s collection of Lemurian granite slabs are both glamorous and durable. The highly iridescent Labradorite pockets within these stones radiate an eye-catching shimmer against a dark navy background. They exude a beautiful spectrum of colors that change as light bounces off the stone. The large amounts of Labradorite residing inside Lemurian Baobab granite in particular makes it of precious rarity, and a luxurious addition to Aria’s granite collection.

Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
Sharing the same name as Aria Stone Gallery’s Lemurian slabs, these ringtail lemurs also originate from the island of Madagascar. Image courtesy of Santiago Urquijo.


Behind the Stone: Labradorite & Lemurian
Lemurian Granite used in a kitchen application. Image courtesy of a tre natuursteen.

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Using Marble Stone Slabs in the Shower and Other Wet Areas

Marble Shower Blog Header 2

Marble is suitable for most showers and other wet area applications. There is some maintenance required if you want to keep your stone looking its best, but it is not a dealbreaker.  To learn more, we spoke with Mike Loflin, Industry Research & Information Manager, at the Natural Stone Institute.

As always, we recommend consulting with your fabrication partner as each stone is composed of its own unique characteristics and some stones may react differently to water and moisture than others (depending on their mineral composition).

Marble Shower Blog Header

What causes marble to rust? 

If exposed to certain liquids, marble containing certain minerals (for example, pyrite) can begin to oxidize. Oxidation is what we call rust. Minerals like pyrite won’t oxidize unless they have been exposed to water, acid or bleach.

If a marble possesses colors or colorful veining, this essentially means the slab has trace minerals present that can potentially rust. However, a marble slab will not rust unless it is exposed to oxidizing liquids (such as water, acid or bleach), and is not treated properly afterwards.

dalmata-marble-shower
Aria Stone Gallery’s Dalmata Marble Shower. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What are pyrite inclusions and why are they prominent in marble?

Pyrite is a yellowish, metallic looking sulfide mineral most commonly found in white marbles. Pyrite can group together and form small, randomly distributed groupings of iron-bearing minerals, called inclusions, that naturally occur in most white stones.

If your slab is installed, sealed, and maintained properly, then rust is not going to be a problem. From Washington D.C. to Milan, century old buildings constructed of marble have not rusted as a result of proper care and maintenance.

How can your fabricator make sure that “rust bleeding” does not occur in your stone?

  • Oil-based putty and plumbing sealants should never be used in contact with stone.
  • Use a cement backer board instead of water-resistant drywall board (green board). Drywall will degrade and the paper on it will become a food source for mold and mildew when subjected to moisture. Do not use unless a waterproof membrane completely protects the surface from moisture infiltration.
  • Make sure all horizontal surfaces (such as shower pan, seats, sills, curbs, etc.) slope slightly downward, ensuring positive water movement.
  • Properly seal around the stone to waterproof and ensure that no water gets behind or underneath the slab.
  • A proper deep-penetrating (but breathable) sealant on the surface of the stone will also ensure that the oxidation process does not take place as the water is not able to penetrate the surface.

For more in depth analysis on stone installation in wet areas, visit the Natural Stone Institute website, here.

calacatta-extra-marble-shower
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra Marble Shower. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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If marble is sealed properly, will it prevent the slab from further rust?

The sealer is a stop gap. A good deep-penetrating (but breathable) sealer will help to prevent rust and oxidation. Quality stone requires a quality sealer.

Proper maintenance after shower use will ensure that the sealer will last longer, as repetitive contact with moisture/water will minimize the sealer’s lifespan.

How often do you recommend sealing for this specific application to ensure moisture is repelled from the slab?

It all depends on how you maintain and care for your stone. If your stone is properly maintained, then sealing every year could be overkill. As long as water beads up on the surface of the slab, the sealer is still doing its job.

Steps you can take to help prevent rust in marble showers after installation:

  1. Run the ventilation fan while showering.
  2. Squeegee the stone after showering.
  3. Run a towel over stone afterwards to ensure no additional water droplets remain.
  4. Open the door after showering to allow for proper ventilation.
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Shower and Tub Surround. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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If not properly maintained, how quickly can rust/oxidation occur in the stone?

It can happen within a couple of years if not maintained properly. We frequently hear from restoration experts — “if they had only taken care of it.”

Can marble be used in a steam shower?

Yes, but it is important to select the appropriate marble for this use. For a steam shower that will exude a lot of moisture in the air, marble that is classified as “A” or “B” can be used as they embody less minerals that are subjective to rusting.  It is highly recommended not to use marbles that are classified as “C” or “D” as in some cases the veining can begin to dissolve in a steam environment.

Please note, for a regular shower application, you can use marble classifications A, B, C, and D if you maintain proper maintenance.

For additional insight and a rough breakdown for stone classifications, visit the Natural Stone Institute website here.

If left untreated, is it true that rust stains can’t be extracted? 

There are products available in the marketplace that work to remove rust. However if the rust stain originates from within or below the stone, it is generally not removable since the source of the stain cannot be eliminated.

One rust removal product that we have seen good results with is Tenax. Tenax has a ready-to-use liquid rust remover that works to remove the rust in some cases. In general you simply apply the liquid rust remover to the rust spots and let it sit for 1 1/2 hours and wipe off with a clean cloth.  It is important to read and follow the instructions on the label closely. If not followed precisely, the results may vary.

If this or another similar product does not work, another option would be for your fabricator to re-hone the material and re-seal it to bring it back to its former glory.

For additional insight on restoration and maintenance, please visit the Natural Stone Institute website here.

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How to Repair Cracks, Fissures, and Scratches in Natural Stone

Ah yes, the daunting question: “What happens if I crack my natural stone countertops?” It’s an upsetting accident, don’t get us wrong – but no need to cry over cracked stone! Repairing, restoring and preventing future damage to your beautiful stone countertops is much easier than you think. That’s why the Aria Stone Gallery team has prepared 5 important facts you should know if you ever spot a crack, fissure, or scratch in your natural stone!

Aria Stone Gallery Bianco Lasa Vena Oro Honed Marble Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Bianco Lasa Vena Oro Honed Marble Kitchen. Image and design courtesy of Traci Connell Interiors.

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What Causes Cracks and Fissures in a Slab?

Small cracks and fissures occur naturally in stone during mother nature’s process of creating and cooling within the earth. At Aria, we inspect every slab in the reflection of the light to check for the cracks and fissures, only choosing the stones with a very small percentage of natural imperfections. That being said, this is not a typical issue you will run into with an Aria slab. However, it is important to understand the process of filling in cracks and fissures so you can spot them yourself!

Human error is an inorganic cause of cracks and fissures within a slab. Uneven cabinetry or poor foundation beneath a stone countertop, children sitting on countertop overhangs, or bumping the corners of your stone with a piece of heavy furniture might be enough to crack a slab. Whatever the case may be, we can assure you we’ve seen it all before.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Lincoln Extra Honed Marble Kitchen. Image courtesy of Amber Venz.

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How Are Cracks and Fissures Repaired?

Cracks and fissures are very repairable using a special epoxy that is meant specifically for fixing natural imperfections in stone, large or small! Since the epoxy is very runny, a fabricator will carefully lay the slab on top of plastic and pour the epoxy over the cracks and fissures, letting it set overnight. During this time, the epoxy will go deep down into the cracks and solidify. The next day, the fabricator will go in and either scrape off the residue with a razor blade or resurface the area completely, depending on the stone type and surface finish.

How Do You Repair Surface Scratches?

On softer materials, such as marble, onyx and calcite, even the best sealers are not stain and scratch proof. Before you call your fabricator, know that you have two main options: resurfacing the stone or using a stone color enhancer and sealer. With resurfacing being the more costly of the two ways to repair scratches in your natural stone, it may be a good idea to try to use the stone color enhancer and sealer first. You can always ask your fabricator which color enhancer and sealer brand they recommend for your natural stone.

Soapstone is the only exception to the scratching and sealing rule.

Soapstone DOES have the potential to scratch. It is composed mostly of the mineral “talc”, which is the softest mineral in the world. However, although talc is soft, it is also super dense, which actually makes soapstone very durable! Since soapstone is so dense, it doesn’t have many pores for debris or chemicals to sink into – meaning you don’t seal soapstone.

How do you repair scratches in soapstone then? Look no further than your garage for some sandpaper! Deep scratches can be smoothed down with 120-grit sandpaper, then finished by apply a coating of mineral oil to clean it up. Mineral oil is what you should use instead of a typical “sealer” to keep your soapstone looking vibrant and clean.

How Does a Color Enhancing Sealer Work?

Once you apply a color enhancing sealer to a dry rag and wipe in on top of a scratch, you will almost immediately begin to see the scratch disappear. The color enhancing sealer fills in and camouflages the scratch to make it much less noticeable.

Aria Stone Gallery | People Magazine April 2018
Aria Stone Gallery’s Arizona Quartzite Kitchen. Image courtesy of Julie Soefer.

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Can I Use a Stone Color Enhancer and Sealer Myself?

Even if you’re the master of DIY, we definitely recommend that you first speak to your fabricator about this process, and advise you to read the instructions on the chemicals that you use. Also, as when introducing any new chemical or cleaning agent to your natural stone, it a good idea to test the how the stone will react to the chemical in a small, discreet place on your stone.

Many color enhancing chemicals are quick to apply, and can be applied easily at home. Start by putting the color enhancing sealer onto a dry, clean rag. Wipe the rag over any scratch and the scratch will disappear. Typically, you should let the chemicals sit for about five minutes, but this may vary dependent on stone, the size of the scratch, and the chemicals that you use. After the color enhancing sealer has set for about 5 minutes, wipe the stone with a clean paper towel until all of the excess product is gone. You can repeat this every three to four months. Luckily, there is no limit to the amount of times you can restore natural stone!

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The Difference Between Honed and Polished Surfaces

Unique Ways to Use Natural Stone in Small Applications

When it comes to designing with natural stone, sometimes it’s fun to start small. Not everyone visualizes their entire home cladded in marble from floor to ceiling – and that’s perfectly okay! There are countless ways to incorporate natural stone into your space, through the utilization of small spaces and accessories. So whether you have remnant materials that you want to find a creative use for, or if you’d like to use smaller amounts of slab throughout the home, the use of stone in small applications can definitely pack a punch.

Art Objects

If anyone knows how to squeeze natural stone into tiny applications, it’s Anna and Roza of A Space Studio in Brooklyn, New York. These talented artists create collaborative pieces that attempt to bring in the timeless beauty of nature to contemporary lifestyle, whether it’s functional furniture or a decorative object. One of their newest pieces, titled: MOUNTAINSCAPES #4, is a gorgeous example of using natural stone as an art object. Not only is this piece decorative, but it also doubles as a small container – making a unique and functional accent.

Shower Niches

Another fantastic way to incorporate natural stone in small doses is through the common shower niche. (However, a shower niche does not have to be so common.) It is always a treat to see beautiful stone inside of a tiny shower niche, and this method of design is an easy way to set your bathroom apart from anyone else’s – even if you don’t want to clad the entire thing. Elizabeth Roberts Architecture really took the stone shower niche to another level, using purple Calacatta Namibia marble inside!

Image Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts Architecture.

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Shelving and Drains

The Aria Stone Gallery team is always blown away by the beautiful detail fabrication of our friends at Il Granito Belgium. From cabinetry facing, integrated sinks, to entire rooms covered in stone, this company has an avid attention to detail and the raw talent to carve your wildest dreams in stone. (No pun intended) Some of their most inspirational projects stem from the use of natural stone in small doses, such as sink drains and shelving. These are both astonishing ways to use remnants pieces and really push the boundaries of decor, demonstrating shapes and sizes we never thought possible in stone.

Image Courtesy of Il Granito Belgium.
Image Courtesy of Il Granito Belgium.
Image Courtesy of Il Granito Belgium.

Mini Bars/Wet Bars

Mini bars and wet bars cladded in natural stone have grown increasingly popular over the years, and I think we can all agree that when it comes to a good bar, small can definitely be mighty. Obumex Interiors Belgium have mini bars down to a science, squeezing the most beautiful and impactful stones into compact spaces. This technique is an amazing way to make a small space pop, and really shows appreciation for the little details.

Image Courtesy of Obumex Interiors Belgium.

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Microscopic Stone Details

A phenomena that few of us pay attention to on a daily basis is the existence of tiny, yet vital, functioning mechanisms that make our homes, well, work! Think: door hinges, wall sockets, shower jambs, partitions – just the small details that often go unnoticed. The smallest of all however, might be the fixing bracket. We know them as the tiny metal nubs that hold our glass shower doors upright. But SJB in Australia showed us that these ‘nubs’ have the potential to be so much more. So, if it’s possible to incorporate natural stone into a space THIS small, anything is possible, right?

Image Courtesy of SJB.

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An Overview of Natural Stone Types

When selecting the perfect stone for your project, it is important to consider the properties, durability and chemical makeup of all natural stone types. Researching endless stone families and pondering the possibilities of how each material will react to your day-to-day activities is a chore! That’s why your friendly Aria Stone Gallery team has prepared the perfect cheat-sheet of all stone types, to make your search just a little easier.

An Overview of Natural Stone Types Chart - Aria Stone Gallery

Properties of Granite

Granite is categorized as an igneous stone, formed from the slow crystallization of liquid magma below the Earth’s surface. So long story short, your granite countertops were once molten lava!

Granite is one of the hardest and most durable natural stone types, requiring little to no maintenance. Scoring about a 6 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, granite is the perfect candidate for outdoor applications, flooring, and countertops that take a lot of beating from everyday use. It is virtually impossible to scratch, stain or etch this stone, so look no further if you are searching for a material that will outlast messy kids and cooking disasters!

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Properties of Quartzite

The long and tedious process of sand compression and heating leads to create the incredibly dense and durable quartzite. The Mohs Hardness Scale classifies quartzite at a 7, higher than its neighbor granite, which on the same scale measures between 6-6.5. To further illustrate, a kitchen knife and glass are measured at a 5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Therefore, scratches should not be an issue when using quartzite in your home, even in high traffic areas and highly used spaces, such as the kitchen. Staining and etching will not be a problem either, since quartzite is relatively non-porous.

Many people are drawn to the unique and vibrant hues that are found in quartzite, so if you are looking for a statement pop of color in your home, quartzite is the material to explore!

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Properties of Marble

Marble is a metamorphic stone that forms when limestone is subjected to the heat and pressure of metamorphism. It is composed primarily of the mineral calcite, and usually contains other minerals, such as clay, quartz, pyrite, and graphite.

Marble is a naturally softer stone (scoring about a 4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale), when compared to granite or quartzite. So it is more susceptible to staining, scratching and acid etching through daily use. However, there are many easy precautions you can take that will keep marble looking like new for years to come! Luckily, stone can be restored repeatedly without concern, and maintenance definitely does not have to be stressful or difficult. Read more about marble and how to maintain it here.

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Properties of Onyx

Onyx is a unique natural stone that originates from dripstone deposits of limestone caves. When water drips from stalactites and stalagmites within these caves and evaporates a compound called calcium carbonate is left behind. This causes the stone’s colorful veins, swirls, and patterns that are unique to onyx.

Onyx is relatively soft, ranking softer than marble on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and therefore has the potential to etch and stain. However, a sealer can be used in addition to prevent wear and tear over time. Feature walls, countertops, art pieces and fireplaces are all especially great examples of ways to incorporate onyx into your home. Most onyx applications can be backlit to enhance the stone’s natural translucency.

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Properties of Schist

Schist is a metamorphic rock, formed from the metamorphosis of mudstone or shale. When mudstone is subjected to extreme temperatures and pressure within the Earth, it becomes what we call “slate”. Sometimes, this “slate” undergoes even further metamorphosis before surfacing and hardening, therefore creating schist. In short, slate is the first step in the creation of schist, much like a caterpillar is the first step in the life cycle of a butterfly!

Schist ranks the same level of hardness as marble on the Mohs Hardness Scale, a 4. It is grainy in texture, quite porous, and can shed sparkles or flakes over time, similar to how slate reacts to the touch. If used for applications other than feature walls or fireplaces, Schist should be sealed and maintained regularly to protect its delicate surface. Although this stone is somewhat fragile, it makes for a beautiful project because of its unique appearance and texture.

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Properties of Calcite

Calcite is a transparent or translucent natural stone that is found in both crystalline and massive forms, such as a stone slab. Although crystals of calcite are usually translucent or colorless, they can at times exhibit a wide variety of hues depending on the crystal’s chemical makeup. Calcites can have soft veins of light blue, green and other light colors, in addition to clear, sparkling crystals throughout the material.

Calcite is a softer stone – more comparable to marble in terms of hardness, ranking about a 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They can scratch, etch and stain just like marble can if not sealed or cared for properly. However, with proper care and a skilled fabricator, this stone makes a beautiful fit for any application!

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Properties of Travertine

Travertine is very similar to onyx in nature and in terms of durability. Travertine, at times, can even contain mixtures of translucent onyx within itself – making it a great candidate for backlighting! Much like onyx, travertine is formed from limestone drip deposits from caves and hot springs, or from evaporation of river water. Therefore, it is classified as a sedimentary rock.

This stone is relatively soft and porous, so it would be wise to seal and protect it from acid and debris penetrating into the material. Travertine is known for having naturally occurring small holes throughout the material, they can either be left as part of the textured surface, or they can be filled. If you choose to use Travertine for a countertop application, always use a neutral detergent to clean it.

However interestingly enough, the primary use of travertine is actually for construction! Temples and monuments all over the world are built with travertine, and it can be used for paving patios, courtyards and paths. Travertine’s colors are commonly warm, and can be found in white, beige, gold, brown, and even red!

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Properties of Soapstone

Soapstone is a tricky material to categorize. It technically ranks the lowest on the Mohs Hardness Scale (#1, to be exact) but don’t let the number fool you. Soapstone is composed mostly of the mineral “talc”, which is the softest mineral in the world. However, although talc is soft, it is also super dense, which actually makes soapstone very durable! Okay, so here’s a breakdown of the confusing part:

Soapstone DOES NOT stain or etch. Why? It is a non-porous stone. Therefore, you don’t ever need to seal it. It would be pointless to seal soapstone since it has virtually no pores for debris to sink into! It is impervious to most kitchen chemicals, acids and liquids, in fact.

Soapstone DOES scratch. Why? Because soapstone is composed mostly of that “talc” stuff, a very soft mineral.

How do you repair scratches then? Look no further than your garage for some sandpaper! Deep scratches can be smoothed down with 120-grit sandpaper, then finished by apply a coating of mineral oil to clean it up. Mineral oil is what you should use instead of a typical “sealer” to keep your soapstone looking vibrant and clean.

Soapstone IS HEAT RESISTANT. That’s why chefs love it! You could *gently* set a boiling hot pan on a soapstone countertop and it wouldn’t burn. It is almost completely heat-proof due to the incredible density of the material. Bon appétit!

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VIEW MORE:
The “Four C’s” of Natural Stone
Designing with Textured Surface
How to Repair Cracks, Fissures, and Scratches
How to Clean Your Natural Stone

The Truth About Marble Countertops in the Kitchen

Homeowners and first-time natural stone buyers that stop into Aria present us with the age-old question time and time again, “is marble OK to use on my kitchen countertops?” Everyone loves the classic look of natural marble, but all the maintenance and upkeep can seem scary at first glance. The pros and cons of using marble in the kitchen are often confused and misinterpreted, therefore the Aria Stone Gallery team is here to provide the facts you need before making this big decision.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Arabescato Corchia Marble Kitchen. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Fact #1: Marble is Timeless 

Natural stone can be closely compared to a fine wine; stone ages with grace and never loses its value or beauty. Man-made materials such as porcelain and quartz can replicate the organic vein patterns and colors of marble; however, natural marble is always completely unique and each slab is like a fingerprint – different in its own way. The story that every slab tells after being created within the Earth after thousands of years is something that always attracts people to natural stone.

Natural stone is durable and powerful; existing eons before us and scientifically proven to outlast us.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Fior Di Pesco Apuano Marble Kitchen. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Fact #2: Caring For Marble is Easier Than You Think

Here’s the truth: marble is a naturally softer stone, when compared to granite or quartzite. So it is more susceptible to staining, scratching and acid etching through daily use. Seems scary, but don’t let those words stray you away from choosing the kitchen countertops of your dreams! If this is a concern, there are simple ways to work around to prevent this from happening to your stone:

  1. Consider honing your marble. Since a honed surface is already matte, etching will be camouflaged! Honed surfaces are actually becoming more and more popular, as they make for a smooth and modern look. They can also be much more kitchen-friendly!
  2. Have your countertops sealed regularly. There are many different types of sealers out there, and a professional fabricator can easily assist with adding this top coat of armor to your marble. Consider it scheduled maintenance to keep your kitchen in tip-top shape!
  3. Use trivets, placemats and coasters. This is an easy one. Prevent water rings, coffee stains, spaghetti spills and pan burns by covering up the messiest areas of your countertops while you work. And if you do make a spill and miss the placemat, don’t panic! Just wipe up the mess as quickly as possible with a clean cloth, or use soap and water.

Those three tips are fool-proof, and will keep your marble counters looking like new for years to come! Luckily, stone can be restored repeatedly without concern, and maintenance definitely does not have to be stressful or difficult. Think about it this way – if people have used marble for flooring and tiles for generations, you can most certainly use it for your countertops!

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Kitchen. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Fact #3: Your Very Own Marble Tells A Story

It is not always a requirement to protect the integrity of your marble countertops with your life! Many homeowners and marble enthusiasts adore the look of weathered stone, as it adds an element of uniqueness and character. Picturing lightly scratched or etched marble surfaces may leave a bad taste in your mouth at first, but countertops that sport subtle wear have an appeal all their own. Marble is something we like to call a “living surface”, and much like a perfectly broken-in sweater or a finely antiqued piece of furniture, this is one look that can only be attained through years of use.

Simply put, natural stone is the perfect, blank canvas for every owner to paint their story.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Kitchen. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Fact #4: Marble Makes The Perfect Sous Chef

Natural marble can come in handy while baking in the kitchen, since it is naturally cool in temperature. White marble countertops are especially perfect for working with pastries, since they don’t conduct heat very well. They can also prevent your kitchen from feeling super steamy while preparing meals!

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Lincoln Extra Honed Marble Kitchen. Image Courtesy of Amber Venz.

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Fact #5: Marble is Obtainable and Affordable

The convenient thing about marble is that it comes in a variety of price ranges and can be suitable for any budget. Marble can be found in every state, every country, all over the world – and Aria Stone Gallery can even specially source it for your project! While some rare families of marble sell at a higher price, there are more common types that still provide the same iconic aesthetic we all know and love, at an affordable price. Some marbles are even more affordable than man-made materials!

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Kitchen. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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So, marble in the kitchen? It’s 100% okay. If you prefer the look of pristine, untouched stone on your countertops, you can definitely have it with only simple precautions! If elegantly worn marble is more your style, by all means, break in that stone! No matter your lifestyle or design, natural marble in the kitchen will always reign above all other materials as Mother Earth’s finest accessory.

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Designing with Wood and Natural Stone

The comforting and thoughtful pairing of wood and natural stone never fails to create a tailored, cohesive and rustic atmosphere. Whether the application is a high-rise city loft or a country farmhouse, the iconic wood and stone trend is always in momentum and remains one of the most coveted design duos today. Read on to experience a few of our projects that feature the classic combination of wood and stone, and how you can achieve this style!

Pair Lights with Lights

The key to a soft, warming look like the kitchen below is to pair creamy wood cabinets, furniture etc. that has similar colors to the lighter veining in your stone. This will create a subtle, yet distinguished color palette that is expressed by tones we often think of as “color-neutral”. Bright, clean and neutral spaces can exude cheerful energy, and therefore, filling your home with these positive tones will attract visitors back for years to come.

Cremo Calacatta Marble Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Cremo Calacatta Marble Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Go Rugged and Rustic

Don’t be afraid to throw some elements of nature into your space! Natural stone (such as our Fusion quartzite) actually pairs quite well with river rock wall mosaics and distressed wood finishing. The smooth, organic surfaces of these materials create a rustic yet luxurious look. Pebbles and indoor plants also make wonderful accent pieces, and help to bring out subtle colors in your natural stone.

Fusion Quartzite Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Fusion Quartzite Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Utilize Modern Techniques

A home grounded on the combination of wood and natural stone does not always have to be traditional or rustic! Choosing a vibrant stone that brings a pop of color into the mix, as well as incorporating design techniques like streamlined waterfall edges and minimal cabinet detail will spark modernism within your space.

Bianco Everest Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Bianco Everest Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Visualize A Cozy Workspace

This homey, ranch-house style kitchen is overflowing with color and ample natural light. The center island features Aria’s Fusion Leathered Quartzite – pairing perfectly with warm brick, bronzed hardware and hard wood floors. We especially love the way the distressed wooden ceiling rafters bring focus back to the dark veining throughout the countertops. Taking advantage of wooden accents that radiate rich, dark tones can be very helpful when deciding on a natural stone with a lot of color and busy veining.

Fusion Quartzite Leathered Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Fusion Quartzite Leathered Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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VIEW MORE:
5 Showstopping Fireplaces Using Natural Stone
Behind The Stone: Estremoz Marble
The Difference Between Honed and Polished Surfaces

5 Showstopping Fireplaces Using Natural Stone

Aria Stone Gallery Fior De Bosco Marble Fireplace

Natural stone fireplace facades remain one of the most trendy styles of design no matter where you roam. Whether these cladded fireplaces stem from the utilization of leftover stone material, or the grand idea of a massive quadmatched feature wall, we can promise a cozy fireplace will never fail to pull together your home. So grab a coffee, cozy up to your fireplace and read on to experience 5 of the most extravagant and unique natural stone fireplaces Aria Stone Gallery has ever seen.

1. Quadmatched Silver Wave Fireplace

The only way we can describe this fireplace is graphic, dramatic and all around breathtaking. Four gigantic slabs of Aria’s Silver Wave crafted into a quadmatch creates a head-turning and mind-blowing art form inside an already gorgeous living room. Truly a mantle fit for a king.

Aria Stone Gallery's Silver Wave Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Silver Wave Fireplace. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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2. Symmetrical Grigio Italia Marble Fireplace

Rich shades of grey and undertones of violet combined with perfect 45-­degree movement gives Aria’s Grigio Italia bookmatched fireplace a classy appeal. The intricate patterns and veining throughout this sleek marble add depth and dimension, and you really can’t go wrong with black and white.

Aria Stone Gallery's Grigio Italia Marble Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Grigio Italia Marble Fireplace. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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3. Viridescent Verde Aurora Diamondmatch Fireplace

This stunning Verde Aurora marble feature fireplace sports a rich, green diamondmatch, flawlessly cladding the entire wall. An epitome of sophisticated elegance, this earthy treasure is the centerpiece of the home and a beautiful example of using pop color in interior design. We are positively green with envy!

Aria Stone Gallery's Verde Aurora Marble Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Verde Aurora Marble Fireplace. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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4. Classic Calacatta Extra Marble Fireplace

This bookmatched Calacatta Extra fireplace might seem small, but it definitely packs a punch. Located directly across from a mirrored bookmatch feature wall and bar, this elongated mantle ties together all major focal points in the home and is a creative use of leftover material. A classic and simple, yet detail-oriented design to say the least.

Aria Stone Gallery's Calacatta Extra Marble Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra Marble Fireplace. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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5. Fabulous Fior Di Bosco Marble Fireplace

A luxurious marble tower of grays and browns, Aria’s Fior Di Bosco fireplace is nothing short of dazzling. Residing in a living room brimming with sparkling chandeliers and traditional furniture, we absolutely love how this fireplace adds a touch of warmth and ties the space together.

Aria Stone Gallery's Fior Di Bosco Marble Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Fior Di Bosco Marble Fireplace. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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VIEW MORE:
How to Turn your Remnants into Furniture and Accessories.
View Our Verde Aurora Feature Fireplace.
What Does Bookmatching and Quadmatching Mean?
What’s the Difference Between Calacatta and Carrara Marble?

Behind the Stone: Estremoz Marble

Estremoz Marble Kitchen

Aria Stone Gallery is so excited to announce the brand new addition to our collection of luxurious natural stones – a bright white bundle of Estremoz marble. This incredible marble originates from the municipal city of Estremoz, Portugal. Here, nearly 80% of all Estremoz that is quarried yields a pink hue; however, Aria was able to secure a pure white bundle with creamy veins, which is an extremely rare find.

Aria Stone Gallery Estremoz Marble | Full Slab View
Aria Stone Gallery’s 2cm Estremoz Marble. 

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The History Behind Estremoz Marble

Estremoz, Portugal is a historic city surrounded by vineyards, chapels, and majestic castles. Estremoz is famous for their marble production. In fact, there is so much marble in Estremoz, that it is used nearly everywhere in the city. From stairs, doorsteps, fountains, and even pavement mosaics and facades of buildings, marble is all around! Coming in second to Italy, Portugal is the second largest marble exporter in the world and approximately 85% of all marble from Portugual is quarried from Estremoz.

Estremoz, Portugal. Image courtesy of Phillip Capper.
The Estremoz marble quarry. Image courtesy of The Voyageur.

What Does Estremoz Marble Look Like?

Estremoz marble typically comes in a wide array of colors – most slabs have a cream or rose backdrop due to the chemical makeup of the stone. Vein coloration throughout slabs can vary between hues of pink, cream, white, grey or black. Most marble slabs quarried from Estremoz are predominantly pink or rose colored; but on rare occasions, bundles like we have at Aria Stone Gallery are pure white with subtle veining.

Estremoz Marble Kitchen
Estremoz marble countertop and backsplash application. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts Architecture.

How Can I Use Estremoz Marble for My Next Project?

As long as you take proper precautions, such as sealing your stone, the design possibilities for Estremoz marble are endless! Sealing your natural stone to prevent staining and etching will help keep your marble looking as pristine as the day you install it. This beautiful white Estremoz is perfect for kitchens, bathrooms and floor applications – making for a bright and luxurious statement.

Estremoz marble kitchen island application. Image courtesy of ArchiExpo.

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VIEW MORE:
The Difference Between Honed and Polished Surfaces
Do You Need to Seal Your Stone?
Rift vs Vein Cut

Milling Stone: Downsizing a 3cm Slab to a 2cm Slab

Aria Stone Gallery Silver Wave Fireplace

Typically quarries will cut and ship stone slabs in measurements of 2cm or 3cm. In some cases, harder stones such as granite or quartzite will even be available in 1cm. But what should you do if you find your perfect stone in 3cm and your project calls for 2cm? Luckily, there is a way for your fabricator to downsize your stone to fit your design needs: milling. Milling is the process of slowly grinding the thickness of a material down using a mill saw.

Aria Stone Gallery Colosseo Marble Bookmatch Feature Wall
Aria Stone Gallery’s Colosseo Marble Bookmatch Feature Wall. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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How Does a Fabricator Mill a 3cm Slab into a 2cm Slab?

Most fabricators will have the ability to transform your 3cm slab into a 2cm slab using a mill saw. To begin the process, a foam board is first placed on top of the work table for support and to absorb the pressure that the saw places on the stone. This will avoid creating cracks or fissures in the material. The mill saw then moves across the surface, slowly grinding the stone down to 2cm. There are many different types of milling machines, and they are categorized by orientation to their workpiece and by type of motion.

Aria Stone Gallery Silver Wave Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Silver Wave Fireplace. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Can I Use a 3cm Material for a Backsplash?

Backsplash applications in kitchens or bathrooms are prime examples of when slabs may need to be milled from 3cm to 2cm. In some cases, a 3cm slab is too thick and may get in the way of faucets, sinks or cabinetry.

Aria Stone Gallery Colorado Gold Marble Bathroom
Aria Stone Gallery’s Colorado Gold Marble Bathroom. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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How Can I Make My 2cm Slab Appear Thicker?

On the opposite note, if you are wanting your 2cm countertop or island to appear thicker, there is a way for your fabricator to miter the edges, giving you endless possibilities when creating your edge profile. No need to search for a 3cm slab, you can make a 2cm material appear to be 3cm, 4cm, 5cm or thicker using this technique.

mitered edge
Don’t be fooled; This countertop edge is not 4cm, but simply a 2cm slab with a mitered edge! Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

What Stone Thickness Should I Use for Wall Applications?

It is not recommended to use 3cm materials for wall applications since a typical household wall is not built to support such an immense amount of weight. When applied to a wall, the slenderness of a 2cm slab may be more visually appealing and easier to work with, especially when installing electrical sockets or finishing the sides of the stone.

Aria Stone Gallery Zebrino White Marble Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Zebrino White Marble Fireplace. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Does Milling Effect the Strength of Stone?

Every countertop is just as good as the support beneath it. As a rule of thumb, 2cm is an appropriate strength for marble, quartzite and granite.

Creating a slab smaller than 2cm (especially with marble) is not recommended unless it is for a smaller project such as a small vanity, threshold, or backsplash. If needed, quartzite and granite can be milled to about 1/2 an inch. For marble, it is not recommended to go below 3/4 of an inch in order to keep the integrity of the stone in tact.

Aria Stone Gallery Arabescato Gris Marble Feature Wall
Aria Stone Gallery’s Arabescato Gris Marble Feature Wall. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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VIEW MORE:
Can you Change the Finish of a Slab?
Everything you Need to Know About Quartzite
On the Edge: Mitered Edge & Waterfall Edge Countertops

What Is Onyx? How to Use Onyx Slabs for Your Next Project

Onyx is a unique natural stone that originates from dripstone deposits of limestone caves. When water drips from stalactites and stalagmites within these caves and evaporates a compound called calcium carbonate is left behind. This causes the stone’s colorful veins, swirls, and patterns that are unique to onyx. Therefore, onyx is classified a chemical sedimentary stone and can at times contain fossils and shells. Prehistoric animal skeletons have even been found preserved inside onyx!

limestone_cavern
A limestone cave. Photo courtesy of Manal Sabbagh

What Does Onyx Look Like?

Onyx is crystalline stone, and often translucent – which means it allows for light to pass through. The degree of translucency varies among onyx slabs and is dependent on the color, thickness and surface finish. A unique feat, onyx will recrystallize in time, often enhancing translucency as a result. Onyx typically comes in a wide array of yellow hues due to the presence of iron deposits, but other common colors are green, white, orange, gold, pink and brown.

Aria Stone Gallery Onyx White Extra Bathroom
Aria Stone Gallery’s Onyx White Extra Bathroom. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Aria Stone Gallery Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar
Aria Stone Gallery’s Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Should I Use Onyx in My Next Project?

We believe that if you love this stone, a skilled fabricator will be able to make your onyx project a reality. Like most natural stones, onyx has the potential to etch and stain; however, a sealer can be used in addition to prevent wear and tear over time. Feature walls, countertops, art pieces and fireplaces are all especially great examples of ways to incorporate onyx into your home. Most onyx applications can be backlit to enhance the stone’s natural translucency.

Aria Houston Showroom
Backlit Onyx Artwork Inside Aria Stone Gallery’s Houston Showroom. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.
Aria Stone Gallery Backlit Onyx Nuvolato Bar and Feature Wall
Aria Stone Gallery’s Backlit Onyx Nuvolato Bar and Feature Wall. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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VIEW MORE:
Backlighting Onyx Q&A
Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar and Lounge at The Grove Kitchen & Gardens
How to Turn Your Remnants into Furniture and Accessories

Do You Need to Seal Your Natural Stone? (Marble, Quartzite, Granite)

do-you-need-to-seal-your-stone

We often hear, “I want granite because it’s stain resistant.” While granite is a strong material and holds up really well, it’s not your only option if you are worried about scratching, staining, or etching. Recent technological advances in natural stone sealers have exponentially expanded sealing options. There are many possibilities to keep natural stones such as marble, onyx, and even limestone to look as beautiful as the day they were installed. Read along to learn which sealer is best for your project and what you can do at home to protect your natural stone from scratches, stains, and etches.

marble food spill
Image courtesy of Discover Stone Care.

There are two types of natural stone sealers: topical and impregnator.

  • Topical. A topical sealer is a coating or a film designed to protect the surface of the stone against water, oil, and other contaminants. Oftentimes, you have to strip and re-apply topical sealers, making them a less appealing choice for homeowners.
  • Impregnator. An impregnating sealer is typically a water based solution that penetrates below the surface and repels oil and water. Impregnating sealers are “breathable”; meaning, they keep water and oil out, but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping.

What type of natural stone sealer should I use?

At Aria Stone Gallery, we typically suggest that our clients use impregnating nano sealers. Nano sealers are a new breed of impregnating sealers that consist of tiny particles. The smaller particles are able to penetrate and fill in more pores in the stone, creating a stone that is more impenetrable to stains. However, speak with your fabricator and check all fine print and warranties before deciding which sealer is best for you.

Will using a sealer change the color of my natural stone?

Not all sealers will change the color of your stone. If you do not want to change the color of the stone, there are impregnating sealers available that will only block moisture from penetrating the stone.

However, there are certain color enhancing sealers that can protect your stone and also bring out all of the beautiful, vibrant hues. Many people chose to use color enhancing sealers on their marble or onyx to create a more vibrant color. You can keep the color enhancing sealer at home for a quick fix against scratches and etches. For example, if you scratch the stone you can put the color enhancing sealer on the scratch – sometimes the scratch goes away completely – sometimes the scratch goes away mostly – it all depends on the material.

Aria Stone Gallery Cristallo Tiffany Quartzite Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Cristallo Tiffany Quartzite kitchen in a polished finish. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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How do you seal limestone?

Limestone is different in that it needs to breathe more than other stones. It is important to seal limestone with a specific sealer that helps protect, but also allows for extra breathability.

How do you prevent scratching and etching in natural stone at home? 

The best way to prevent scratching and etching is to use trivets for heavy pots and pans. Also, be sure to blot up any acidic liquids spills quickly with a clean cloth. Otherwise, a fabricator can come to your home with a machine that can buff the etch out of the stone. Looking for something you can do at home to prevent etching? Fabricator, Chris Wynn, from Statement Furniture, suggests using a high grade car or furniture wax. The wax will also help to prevent the stone from etching in the future. Both options are very similar. It is just a matter of doing it yourself or paying a fabricator to do it for you.

Here are the steps you can take to prevent your natural stone from scratching and etching at home:

  1. Blot up any acidic liquid spills with a clean cloth
  2. Flush the area with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times
  3. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth
  4. Use a high grade car of furniture wax and spread over your natural stone
  5. Leave the wax on overnight
  6. Buff the wax off in the morning with a clean, soft cloth until it shines.

How often do you need to reseal your natural stone?

First, consult the brand of sealer that your fabricator initially used, as some sealers have warranties. All stones have different porosities and different finishes can lend to higher stain resistance as well. Learn more about the porosity of your stone and use your best judgement. If you see water spots or anything out of the ordinary, then call your fabricator to refinish. The maintenance could be every year or every 5 years, it depends on the stone and the type of finish.

Aria Stone Gallery Grey Goose Marble Kitchen
Aria Stone Gallery’s Grey Goose Honed Marble Kitchen. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What is Clearstone?

Clearstone is new type of topical sealer that was created in Australia over 18 years ago and recently brought to the United States. First the fabricator will paint on a primer that impregnates the stone. Then the fabricator will coat the surface with a resin solution that binds with the primer creating another layer of protection. The fabricator puts the Clearstone resin on the stone after installation and fabrication. The result is a sealer that lays over top of your stone that prevents etching and staining for 10 years, also covered by a 10 year warranty.

Does Clearstone change the color of natural stone?

Clearstone is completely (water clear) transparent and won’t change the natural color of the stone and doesn’t yellow.

Is Clearstone heat resistant?

Fabricators suggest that you treat stone sealed with Clearstone the way you would treat engineered stone (like quartz or porcelain). Meaning, Clearstone is not completely heat resistant and you should use trivets to protect from heat.

What is TuffSkin?

TuffSkin is a proprietary stone laminate, made from high-tech polyester that is chemical free and odorless. Its hard coat technology prevents your stone from etching, scratching, is removable/replaceable. It is also heat resistant and holds up to hot pans, boiling water, blow dryers and curling irons (withstands a max 400 degrees). Although your stone will not be harmed with this layer of protection, the TuffSkin laminate itself does have the potential to scratch. That is why TuffSkin calls it “long term maintenance”. When the laminate becomes too scratched for the customer’s liking, TuffSkin can easily be removed and replaced.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Collemandina Honed Marble with a satin TuffSkin finish. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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TuffSkin adhesive is designed specifically to work with natural stone, and is another great option for sealing. You can choose your TuffSkin adhesive in either a polished or honed (satin) finish. Surfaces coated with TuffSkin should be cleaned with any non-abrasive cleaner using a soft cloth, paper towel or squeegee.

If your natural stone is in an outdoor application, never fear! TuffSkin lasts for about 2 years outdoors (in direct sunlight). TuffSkin can also provide a special cleaner with UV protection, that if used properly will add another year to the laminate’s lifespan.

Can you apply a sealer after installing natural stone?

Yes, speak to your fabricator for traditional options to seal your stone after installation. Also, Clearstone offers an installation that creates zero dust particles to minimize the disturbance in your home.

VIEW MORE:
How to Repair Cracks, Fissures, and Scratches
How to Clean Your Natural Stone
The Difference Between Honed and Polished Stone Finishes

Milan Design Week 2018: A Preview on Italian Design Trends

parisian floors milan design week 2018

The world renowned Milan Design Week is right around the corner, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about this incredible and inspiring event. Taking place from April 17th to the 22nd, designers, artists, architects and innovators alike will gather in Milan to exhibit their latest collections in Italy’s shimmering city of design.

In a country where natural stone (primarily marble) has long been at the heart of design, it is inspiring to see plentiful use of stone in furniture, art and architecture in new and modern designs. Here is a sneak-peak into some of the exhibits from world renowned design studios and the new and unexpected ways they use natural stone.

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Marble Bent Stools. Photo courtesy of objects of common interest.

SHOP THE LOOK WITH MARBLE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: PIETRASANTA, COLORADO GOLD HONED, NERO LEVANTO

Modern Designs with Colorful Natural Stone

Over the past year, there has been a large shift with many designers and homeowners searching for colorful stones that highlight unique personality to their designs. The desire for color is increasingly prevalent among furniture design, as seen in the design studio, objects of common interest. This New York/Greece based design studio focuses on creating furniture pieces and still life objects that inspire materiality, process and concept. During their exhibition in Milan Design Week, the studio will be collaborating with Matter Made on a new series from its “Relativity of Color” collection, and also with Bloc Studios, which debuts three new marble collections.

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Marble Parallel Bench. Photo courtesy of objects of common interest.

GET THE LOOK WITH COLORFUL NATURAL STONE

Raw, Unfinished, Earthy Natural Stone

A Lot Of Brasil is a revolutionary and high-end furniture design studio based in São Paulo, Brazil. This studio focuses mostly on technology and design innovation, frequenting the use of raw materials to create eco-friendly furniture pieces that are both functional and beautiful. They will be featuring a wide array of new marble, metal and wood products, designed by the company’s talented collaborators at Milan Design Week 2018.

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Mesa Capim Dourado (Golden Grass Table). Photo courtesy of A Lot Of Brasil.

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Intricate, Geometric Marble Floors

Aria was so inspired by this highlight on the Milan Design Week website, featuring marble, porcelain and stone floor tiles, that we had to share! Photographer Sebastian Erras, has traveled around the world to capture the most beautiful floors on camera, and change the perspective of how we look at them. Italy and many areas of Europe are famed for hand-crafted tiles arranged into extravagant patterns on floors everywhere. Since flooring can oftentimes be overlooked, we encourage you to look down and admire the stone beneath you during Milan Design Week!

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Grey marble floor tiles. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Erras.
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White marble floor tiles. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Erras.

Eye Catching Marble with Artisan Woodwork

Peg Woodworking, based in Brooklyn, NY, is a one-woman-run studio created by designer and woodworker Kate Casey. Inspired by Peruvian and American Indian weaving and a focus on form, function, color and pattern, Casey’s intricate and beautiful pieces combine geometric clean lines with the natural beauty of Earth-found elements – such as marble and wood. Aria Stone Gallery has collaborated with Peg Woodworking on a few stone projects, such as the White Beauty Satet Coffee Table and Portoro Gold Totem Table, and we are so thrilled to see this amazing artist and her newest collections featured at Milan Design Week.

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Satet Coffee Table using Aria Stone Gallery’s White Beauty marble. Photo courtesy of Peg Woodworking.

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Totem Table featuring Aria Stone Gallery’s Portoro Gold marble. Photo courtesy of Peg Woodworking.

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VIEW MORE:
How to Turn Your Remnants into Accessories & Gifts
Adventures in the Carrara Valley: Exploring Calacatta Borghini Marble
Designing with Personality Using Colorful Marble & Quartzite

April Hannah’s Lotus Collection: Designing Custom Furniture Using Natural Stone

April Hannah is a sculptural-based designer, whose inherent interest is transforming material through form. April examines the creative process across media and through multiple generations. The structure of The Lotus Collection was discovered by April while playing with her son, as she noticed how a particular modeling toy of his interlocked and transformed. After borrowing an appropriately shaped form from one of her large Totem sculptures, April produced a prototype of The Lotus Dining Table with six, interlocking plywood pieces.

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April Hannah’s Lotus Table design process. Image courtesy of April Hannah.

“I like to think the functional pieces I create exhibit a simple sophistication and playful nature. I strive to transcend the banal and create an unpredictable universe of meditative energy and childlike wonder.”

– April Hannah

The process April uses to create paintings and sculptures is an attempt to mimic the systems of growth and evolution found in nature. Using basic materials (charcoal, wood, paper, canvas) and elementary mark making techniques (scribbling, tracing, repetition), forms organically emerge from within the chaos of creation. April sees these resulting forms as “DNA blueprints” for further exploration – each form evolving into another within each painting or sculpture. The technique is simple and the process is meditative, and like nature, an underlying intelligence exists within.

The Lotus Collection

Each consisting of six interlocking pieces, the Lotus Dining Table and Lotus Cocktail Table classically evoke the mandala form of the lotus in unexpected stone.

April Hannah Lotus Cocktail Table
The Lotus Cocktail Table, designed by April Hannah. Image courtesy of April Hannah.

“The form of the Lotus Table, like the lotus flower rising above the surface of the muddy water from which it grows, takes shape within a muddled web of chaos. The lotus flower symbolizes spiritual awakening and enlightenment. In Taoism, as in nature, paradox is a driving force. It is the emptiness of the vase that holds the water. Being is non-being. Serenity is found when we let go and just be. This is how I approach enlightenment.”

– April Hannah

April’s Biography

After working for several years as a graphic designer in the city where she was raised (Erie, Pennsylvania) April Hannah moved to NYC in 1999, to pursue an MFA at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Upon graduation, Hannah established a studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where she produces abstract paintings and sculptures inspired by patterns and networks found in nature and urban environments.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Agata granite Lotus Dining Table, designed by April Hannah. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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For more information on the Agata Granite Lotus Dining Table, or if you are interested in customizing the Lotus Dining Table using one of Aria Stone Gallery’s natural stones, contact the Aria Stone Gallery showroom in either Houston or Dallas for pricing and customizing options.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Agata granite Lotus Dining Table, designed by April Hannah. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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VIEW MORE:
It’s All in the Details: Seamless Stone Applications
Designing with Textured Surfaces Using Natural Stone
An Artist’s View into #STONEISART

What Is Calcite? Calcite Slabs and How to Use Them for Your Next Project

Aria Stone Gallery Iceberg Blue Calcite Bathroom

Calcite is a transparent or translucent natural stone that can be found in both crystalline and massive forms, such as a stone slab. Although crystals of calcite are usually translucent or colorless, they can at times exhibit a wide variety of hues depending on the crystal’s chemical makeup. Calcites can have soft veins of light blue, green and other light colors, in addition to clear, sparkling crystals throughout the material.

Aria Stone Gallery's Iceberg Blue Calcite Bathroom
Aria Stone Gallery’s Iceberg Blue Calcite Bathroom. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Where Does Calcite Come From?

Calcite is formed in many parts of the Earth, from underground caves and quarries, to hot springs, even coral reefs. Without it, in fact, many of Earth’s creatures could not exist. Many marine organisms use calcite minerals to construct their shells and skeletons. Calcite is such a wonderful addition to Aria’s collection of natural stones because it is an example of how stone can be a helping hand in the creation of life – as well as a beautiful art form!

Calcite crystals found in a coral reef
Calcite crystals found in a coral reef. Photographer unknown.

How durable is Calcite?

Calcite is a softer stone – more comparable to marble in terms of hardness, ranking about a 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They can scratch, etch and stain just like marble can if not sealed or cared for properly. Calcites are generally better suited for a bathroom environment, because it is a low-traffic area that won’t take as much of a beating from day-to-day activities.

Aria Stone Gallery's 3cm Mont Blanc Leathered Calcite ABH720
Aria Stone Gallery’s 3cm Mont Blanc Leathered Calcite ABH720. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Should I use Calcite in my next project?

Calcite slabs are not new to the stone industry, but lately have become a focus of many stone suppliers. As the demand for light colored stones has increased over the years, the amount of calcite being quarried has increased. Because of their unique backstory, colors and patterns, calcite slabs will always be in high demand – making for interesting, modern and beautiful stone projects.

Aria Stone Gallery's Iceberg Blue Calcite Bathroom
Aria Stone Gallery’s Iceberg Blue Calcite Bathroom. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

TOUR THIS ICEBERG BLUE CALCITE BATHROOM

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VIEW MORE:
10 Monochrome Interiors Using Natural Stone
How Hard is Your Stone? Everything You Need to Know About the Mohs Hardness Scale
Everything You Need to Know About Quartzite

The Difference Between Honed and Polished Stone Finishes

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Lincoln Marble Kitchen

When deciding between honed or polished finishes, neither one is better than the other, just different. Neither a honed or polished finish impacts the true nature and durability of the stone slab. And some stones are naturally more durable than others (looking at you granite and quartzite). But for some “softer materials” that are more prone to wear, your stone’s finish may actually add an extra layer of security against stains or camouflage pesky scratches and etches.

Before you make your decision, it is important to ask yourself a few questions and become familiar with all options before deciding which finish is best for you and your family.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Dolce Vita countertops, backsplash and waterfall island in a polished finish. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What do honed and polished finishes look like?

According to the Marble Institute of America, a polished finish has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and veins of the stone. When a stone is polished, the details, colors, hues, and vein structure show more prominently, putting more of an emphasis on these natural characteristics of the stone. A high polish finish will bring the stone’s natural color to its fullest because it will ultimately reflect the light and appear more saturated.

A honed finish is a satin, smooth surface with relatively little reflection of light. A honed finish is more flat and will almost always appear lighter in color. When a polished stone is honed, the depth, hues, and veins that were once very prevalent may be reduced. The degree of honing depends on the stone, but may vary from light to heavy.

Does your lifestyle match your application?

Are you the type of person that feels most at ease in a bright, pristine space? Or do you find history, comfort or character in patina? Do you prefer the look of a brand new leather jacket or your trusty broken in leather jacket? Neither scenario is wrong, it just comes down to what you prefer!

Those who highly disapprove of scratches and etches may find that honed surfaces are well suited for high traffic and heavily used areas, such as countertops and workspaces. Also, the matte, smooth surface is less slippery when wet, making it a safer choice for bathroom flooring and staircases.

But don’t be discouraged if you fall in love with the look of a polished stone but are horrified by the thought of scratching and etching. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take. Similarly, if you find a stone that is polished and wish it were honed, a skilled fabricator should be able to change the finish for you.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Hanoi Pure White Marble as shower walls, seat, and vanity countertops with waterfall edge. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Honed and Polished Finishes: Scratch & Etch Resistance

If you are in love with the look of marble, but are not keen on seeing the inherent characteristics associated with the use of marble over time (such as scratches and etches) then consider a honed finish. On a polished finish, a scratch or etch may leave behind a dull, matte mark creating a contrast. Because honed finishes are already matte, the dull marks from scratches and etches are more likely to be camouflaged and go unnoticed.

Having a sealer does not mean that liquids, especially acidic ones like soda or tomato sauce, should be left on countertops overnight, but it does mean that there will be more time to clean up the spills before a permanent mark is made.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Lincoln Extra Honed Marble in the home of fashion blogger, entrepreneur and LIKEtoKNOW.It.’s founder Amber Venz. Image courtesy of Amber Venz.

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Honed and Polished Finishes: Stain Resistance

When properly sealed, both honed and polished finishes are stain resistant. There is no such thing as a stain proof sealer. If stains are high on your list of concerns, there are a few things to be considered.

A polished finish on a stone is essentially an added layer of security to protect from stains. The process in which a stone is polished helps to close natural pores and create a protective barrier. On the other hand, the pores in a smoothed, honed stone are more receptive to liquid. Side by side, a polished stone surface will have more protection from stains than a honed surface; however, a proper sealer will help to close in open pores and provide stain resistance against most household items.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble in a polished finish with contrasting black, glossy, lacquered walls. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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VIEW MORE:
Can you change the finish of a slab?
Everything you need to know about Quartzite
What’s the difference between Calacatta and Carrara Marble?

What’s the Difference Between Calacatta and Carrara Marble?

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What is so special about the most famous and desirable marble on earth? Maybe it’s the Italian origin, and the historical allure that it was Michelangelo’s favorite stone to carve out his sculptures. Maybe it is the fact that Calacatta adorns so many cathedrals, churches and castles all over the globe. Maybe it is the unique mix of white, grey and hues of gold flowing through the dramatic veining – or maybe it’s all of the above. The truth is that Calacatta marble is the most sought after material in the natural stone universe. But anyone who has shopped for Calacatta marble knows that there are so many different types and price ranges out there. So how do you know if you are buying the real thing or a cheap knock off version?

As a rule of thumb, Carrara tends to be muddy in color and not pure white. Carrara is also less expensive and more common to find in your everyday marketplace or cut into tiles. Calacatta on the other hand has very bold veining with a crisp white background. While each natural stone slab is unique, Calacatta marble is much more rare than your typical Carrara.

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Left: Carrara Marble | Right: Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Where does Calacatta marble come from?

Calacatta marble comes from quarries found in the Apuan Mountains in Carrara, Italy. Owner of Aria Stone Gallery, Vinny Tavares, has been going to the Carrara area of Tuscany in Italy – the land of Calacatta marble – for the past 10 years. Tavares explains, “what most people don’t realize is that Calacatta marble doesn’t come from one specific mountain or quarry. There is a vast mountain range in the Carrara region in Italy, with each quarry producing a variety of white marbles such as: Bianco Carrara, Goiai, Venatino, Statuario and finally, Calacatta marble. All of these materials are white marble with more or less the same geological formation.”

Some quarries produce better Calacatta marble than others. For example, the Borghini Quarry is one of the oldest operating quarries in the Carrara region and some of the quarry’s cuts can be traced to Roman Times.

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The prestigious Borghini quarry in Carrara, Italy. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What does the perfect Calacatta marble slab look like?

In order to understand Calacatta, you need to know what is not Calacatta. Just because someone calls a Statuario marble, “Calacatta” – does not mean it is a true Calacatta. But what truly differentiates all of the white marbles in the Calacatta Region – as the Italians have discovered hundreds of years ago – is the stone’s veining and how white the background is. The whiter the material, the more expensive the slabs. The more “uniform” the veining in the stone, the pricier it gets.

At Aria we only go for the best Calacatta slabs, the one in a thousand. The one with the most unique veining and most clear and consistent pattern. The end result is crystal clear, even for those who can’t pinpoint Carrara on the map!

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Extra Marble Kitchen
Bold veining with a clear, white background is the essence of Calacatta Extra Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Shop Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Marble

See our wide selection of Italian Calacatta marble, ranging from traditional grey and white to creamy, golden veining.

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra | Full Slab View
Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble
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Calacatta Vagli Honed Marble
Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Gold Honed Marble | Full Slab View
Calacatta Gold Honed Marble
Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra | Full Slab View
Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIEW MORE:
Can you change the finish of your natural stone slab?
Everything You Need to Know About Quartzite
How to Clean Your Natural Stone

Celebrating Modernism Week with Marble Cladded Inspiration from Palm Springs

Modernism Week Marble Bathroom Inspiration

Modernism Week in Palm Springs is the ultimate celebration for designers and architects who appreciate mid-century architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking in these fields. Mid-century enthusiasts from around the world flock to Palm Springs to learn and be inspired by the breathtaking modern architecture and marvelous views of the surrounding Coachella Valley Desert. Here is some inspiration from Palm Springs to celebrate Modernism Week and the architects and designers who created this paradise in the desert.

The Parker Mini Bar

The Parker Mini Bar is quintessential Palm Springs. The mini bar was designed to look like a jewelry box and the mirrored walls reflect the ambient lighting and the emerald, marble cladded bar and walls similar to Aria Stone Gallery’s Verde Aurora marble. The jewel toned color palette is perfect for an intimate gathering after a day of sitting poolside.

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Get the look with Aria Stone Gallery’s Verde Aurora marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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The details aren’t lost in the Parker Mini Bar as even the ceiling is tiled and and trimmed with matching green marble to match.

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Get the look with Aria Stone Gallery’s Verde Aurora marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Hugh Kaptur’s Macchia Vecchia Bookmatch Feature Shower

Designed by Architect, Hugh Kaptur, this marble bookmatch shower creates a stunning focal point for this mid-century modern Palm Springs bathroom. The earthy, golden veins are a perfect compliment to the desert landscape and surroundings that this area is known for.

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Get the look with Aria Stone Gallery’s Macchia Vecchia marble. Image courtesy of Dwell.

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Donald Wexler’s Steel House #4

This stunning home was originally designed by one of the original masters of Palm Springs, Donald Wexler. Wexler created many notable homes and buildings in Palm Springs in the Desert Modern style. This style joins the indoors and outdoors in a very minimalistic way.

While even Wexler noted that his homes are mostly glass, the “Steel House #4” uses marble and wood to its full advantage. This kitchen was restored in the spirit of Wexler, keeping in mind natural materials such as dark wood and white as well as plenty of marble, reflecting the mountainous views that surround.

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Get the look with Aria Stone Gallery’s Italian marble. Image courtesy of David Salinger.

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Outdoor Lounge with Feature Marble Fireplace

This stunning Calacatta Vagli marble bookmatch feature wall and fireplace backdrop make this modern outdoor lounge welcoming and cozy. The bookmatch subtly centers your eye on the warm atmosphere and creates a perfect ambiance for gathering with friends and family.

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Get the look with Aria Stone Gallery’s Italian marble. Image courtesy of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners.

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VIEW MORE:
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What is Mid-Century Modern Design?
It’s All in the Details: Seamless Stone Applications

An Artist’s View into #STONEISART

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Last May in SoHo, New York City, Aria Stone Gallery opened an exhibit to the public to celebrate the launch of our new online storefront. The exhibit was named after our mantra, #STONEISART. Since Aria has long believed that natural stone is art in its own right, we wanted to celebrate artists and designers who also see the beauty in natural stone and incorporate it frequently into their designs. After speaking with the artists and designers both one-on-one and through a conversational open panel discussion, we have learned more about the process in which each artist develops their work and why they chose stone as their preferred medium.
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Peg Woodworking: Finding Inspiration through Material Exploration

Kate Casey is a Brooklyn based designer and owner of Peg Woodworking. With a strong background in sculpting and fabrication, Kate designs each piece of furniture with an eye for detail and the utmost attention to form and function. Paying tribute to the clean lines and intricate weaving found in Shaker and Scandinavian design, Peg Woodworking provides a contemporary take on the traditional.

While the root of what Kate designs is primarily based in carpentry and woodworking, she often incorporates different textures and materials in her projects to create a well balanced collection. Working with and exploring new materials is Kate’s lifeblood and inspiration. Kate, expands on her formal training by learning from educational outlets such as YouTube, where she self-taught herself how to expertly craft Peruvian and American-Indian style weaving. After the success of these items, Kate began a new chapter: natural stone. Kate instantly connected to the natural, unique colors and patterns of marble and is drawn to the fact that no two pieces are alike.

As for her latest endeavor, The Bastet Collection, the side tables are constructed with white oak or blackened ash using a barreling technique, similar to the ancient craft of wine barrel creation. The tops of the tables are adorned with slabs of White Beauty or Silver Wave.

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Photo Courtesy of Peg Woodworking, Bastet Collection.

April Hannah: Transforming Materials through Form

April Hannah is a sculptural-based designer, whose inherent interest is transforming material through form. April examines the creative process across media and through multiple generations. One afternoon, April found herself intrigued by the smart way a particular toy of her son’s interlocked and transformed. This pattern gave way to April’s creation of her Totem collection. April’s process begins by using her drawings and paintings to create a “DNA blueprint” for each individual sculpture. The single shape of the template is then reproduced onto multiple pieces of wood using charcoal, each shape interlocking with the other to create a seamless and sculptural form.

The totems are all three-dimensional objects that are an exercise which, “strives to transcend the banal and create an unpredictable universe of meditative energy and childlike wonder.” April’s newest expansion upon her totem collection comes in the form of the Lotus Cocktail Table. The elegant table is designed and created using the same process as the totems, using Nero Marquita or Statuary marble, and fashioned with a glass top.

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Photo Courtesy of April Hannah Studio, Lotus Cocktail Table.

A Space Studio: Connecting Nature and Modernity through Natural Stone

Anna Aristova and Roza Gazarian of A Space Studio are the perfect duo to create modern, natural works of art that are as beautiful as they are unique. The pair finds their inspiration “in a constant balance of opposites,” by pairing raw, heavy natural stone with delicate steel or a romantic gold leaf. Bringing earthy elements into the home in a thoughtful and beautiful way can be a challenge, especially in today’s growing urban landscape. Through knowledge and intuition, the team has found a way to “create a vast and open space” to escape through their natural collections.

In the recent FOUND collection, the stone is sourced and left unpolished directly from the quarries in the mountains of Turkey. These raw, organic stones are then fashioned and manipulated in ways that create a modern piece of art.

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Photo Courtesy of A Space Studio, Found Console Table.

Robin Antar: Using Stone for Healing and Preservation

Robin Antar is a sculptor who primarily uses natural stone to create her works of art. During our artist panel discussion, Robin recounted how she carefully selects natural stone based on the vision of her design. Robin’s art ranges from abstract to impressionistic, and how she selects her natural stone varies based on the design and the story that she is trying to tell.

For example, Boxing Gloves, is made entirely of Carrara Marble, and the veining gives a soft, natural component for a powerful object. Robin’s “passion is to create virtual records of cultural and personal events” that have impacted the artist greatly. The permanence of stone is the perfect platform for the artist to transform her emotions and create “lasting expressions of art for others to appreciate.”

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Photo Courtesy of Robin Antar, Conversation 2.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Robin Antar, Boxing Gloves.

Erickson Aesthetics: Studying Art and Fine Furniture with Stone

Furniture designer, Ben Erickson, is known for his ability to create modern designs using unexpected geometric patterns that “draws on the line of fine art furniture and tongue-in-cheek intentionality.”  In his latest collection, Pyramids, Ben uses marble and brass to create a highly inspirational side table composed of two marble pyramids to create an hourglass figure, held together by a brass pole. True to Ben’s fashion, the pole also allows for the side table to swivel, giving the exquisite table a playful touch.

All of Ben’s furniture is carried out with the highest quality of craftsmanship and materials. And notably, many pieces that Ben designs all feature a certain element of surprise that make the pieces of art relatable and draw the viewer in to create an emotional connection.

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Photo Courtesy of Erickson Aesthetics, Pyramids Side Table.

VIEW MORE:
Learn more about the launch of our e-commerce platform
Join Vinny on his next trip to Carrara, Italy to hand-select your own materials
View our current selection of hand-selected natural stones

Designing with Personality Using Colorful Marble & Quartzite

Your home is one of the best ways that you can show off your style and personality. There is no better way to show off your personality than incorporating your favorite colors to make a statement in your home and we predict that we will see even more color as 2018 progresses.

As interior designer Lucinda Loya said, “make it your own and it will be timeless.” And according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, it seems that more than ever homeowners are stepping away from the traditional white kitchen and selecting bold appliances, cabinets, and countertops for their new designs.

This incredible galley kitchen features floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry in robin’s egg blue for abundant, stylish storage. This bold cabinetry is complimented by the amalgamation of chocolate, cream, and rust hues that are found in the Quasar Quartzite countertops and backsplash, sourced by Aria Stone Gallery.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Quasar quartzite. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Strive for a balance between neutral and colorful to achieve a unique design without going overboard. This kitchen in the Christopher Peacock showroom shows how to harmoniously achieve the right balance. The colorful marble pattern incorporates lavender and cream that compliments the blue walls, while the custom white cabinetry and silver accents create a balanced color palette.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Fior Di Pesco Apuano marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Another thing to keep in mind is to design with natural light in mind. The amount of natural light a room receives will vary from room to room. Keep in mind that colors will appear differently in rooms with more or less natural light. While this butler’s pantry is not in direct line of a window, the colors are cohesive and are not at all overwhelming for the small space.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Macchia Vecchia marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Living metals and natural materials that have the ability to show visible wear with age makes a space more personal, showing a uniqueness that will never fully be replicated. This colorful wet bar mixes Aria Stone Gallery’s colorful Bianco Neve Honed Marble and stunning brass accents.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Bianco Neve Honed marble. Image courtesy of Jenkins Interiors.

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VIEW MORE:
Behind the Stone: Red Louis Quartzite
It’s All in the Details: Seamless Stone Applications
Designing with Textured Surfaces

10 Monochrome Interiors Using Natural Stone

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Kitchen

Diane Von Furstenberg writes that, “the little black dress is the truest friend…she travels with you…is patient and constant…you go to her when you don’t know where else to go and she is ALWAYS reliable and timeless.”

Like the little black dress, nothing has a more elegant touch than a black and white color palette. Photography, fashion, and design can all instantly exude class when a monochromatic color scheme is used. In addition to the predominate trends toward the pure white stones, natural stones that exude a black and white patterns are also highly coveted.

1. Dalmata Marble Statement Shower

This Dalmata marble bookmatch feature shower wall is the modern day ink blot test. The fierce black and white veining swirl together to create an incredible display of nature’s artistic abilities. The open plan shower with a single glass pane will ensure that this beautiful marble will never be hidden.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Dalmata Marble bookmatched in an open plan shower. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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2. Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Kitchen

The Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra marble is one of the rarest and most exclusive marbles on earth. This romantic kitchen features black lacquered walls that make the extra white marble stand out, while also making the space feel large and open.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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3. Floor to Ceiling Grey Goose Marble Bathroom

From the tub surround to the walls, support beams, and ceiling, everything is covered in grey goose marble. The silky smooth texture of this honed finish feels luxurious and soft – perfect for a day of pampering.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Grey Goose marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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4. Silver Wave Waterfall Breakfast Bar

Silver Wave has one of those rare striated designs that always looks stunning in bookmatch. This small space makes the most use of the Silver Wave by using a mitered edge to create a waterfall where the veining matches perfectly. Additionally, a small bookmatch is displayed behind the stove tying the look together.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Silver Wave Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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5. Modern Agata Granite Kitchen

Black and white with a pop of pink peonies. This modern kitchen with pendant light fixtures and flat facing cabinetry is clean, bright, and full of life. The monochrome color scheme of the Agata granite waterfall island will always be seen as modern, no matter the year.

Aria Stone Gallery Agata Granite Kitchen Island
Aria Stone Gallery’s Agata Granite. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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6. Grigio Carnico Marble Bar

Monochrome color schemes are timeless. This Grigio Carnico marble is black with white veining that creates subtle movement in this small, yet incredibly chic wet bar.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Grigio Carnico marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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7. Zebrino Black and Gold Marble Cladded Walls

It is incredibly rare to find a marble with the combination of black, white, and gold, as found in this floor-to-ceiling marble cladded bathroom. Using Aria Stone Gallery’s Zebrino Black and Gold marble, the horizontal linear veining wraps around the bathroom, making the space appear wider and larger to the eye.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Zebrino Black and Gold Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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8. Grigio Carnico Marble Vanity

Add depth and dimension to your monochrome color palette by choosing materials that have texture and movement. This Grigio Carnico marble with rich shades of grey combined with flowing white veining is perfectly paired with the textured stainless sink with matching hardware.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Grigio Carnio. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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9. Agata Granite Wet Bar

Create a high contrast in monochrome designs by using a strong black and white color palette. This classic combination is always chic and will never go out of style. The bold white veining across the black canvas of the Agata granite is a showstopper that cannot be missed.

 

 

Aria Stone Gallery’s Agata Granite. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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10. Dalmata Marble Feature Wall

An artistic monochrome natural stone bookmatch is a perfect piece of art to add to any design. The right dramatic stone in a monochrome color palette is neutral, allowing you to add colorful accessories over the years to personalize the space.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Dalmata Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What Does Bookmatch and Quadmatch (Diamond Match) Stone Mean?

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Bookmatching is a symmetrical way to match the veining of two slabs of stone so that the veining of the two slabs are closely aligned to mirror each other, like an opened book.

Quadmatching, sometimes referred to as diamond matching, refers to symmetrically matching four slabs of stone, so that the veining of the four adjoining slabs align to create either an X pattern or a diamond shape.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Dalmata Marble bookmatched in an open plan shower. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Dalmata Marble bookmatched feature wall. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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Aria Stone Gallery Verde Aurora Quartzite Quadmatch Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Verde Aurora marble quadmatch feature fireplace. Design by Dana Vidal. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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How are bookmatch or quadmatch stone slabs created?

When a large block of stone slabs are cut from the mountain, the quarry cuts them in sequential order, similar to a giant bread slicer. Once the slabs are cut, the quarry can decide to polish the same side of every stone, or alternate, polishing opposite sides of the stone so that the veining in the slabs mirrors one another.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s showroom displays bookmatched slabs similar to if you were visiting a museum or art gallery.

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Can you bookmatch all natural stone slabs?

Most natural stone slabs can bookmatch. For best results, purchase slabs in sequential order to ensure the closest veining alignment. Most vein cut natural stone slabs are ideal for bookmatching applications, but if you are uncertain if your stone bookmatches or quadmatches, ask your stone supplier.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra marble bookmatch feature wall and backsplash. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What type of finish should I use on my bookmatch or quadmatch stone?

While finish ultimately comes down to personal preference, according to the Natural Stone Institute, “bookmatched [or quadmatched] material is most commonly polished to allow the greatest visibility of the veining character of the stone.”

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Azul Imperiale Extra marble in a bookmatch feature wall and bookmatch countertop. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What type of applications are suitable for bookmatching or quadmatching (or diamond matching)?

Bookmatching and quadmatching can be suitable for most applications. Feature walls, kitchen islands, backsplashes, open-plan showers, and even statement fireplaces are all ideal candidates for bookmatching and quadmatching natural stone.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra marble designed as a bookmatched desk. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

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What Is the Difference Between Quartzite and Quartz?

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While their names are quite similar, there is a big difference between quartzite and quartz. The main difference being that quartzite is a natural stone and quartz is a man-made stone composite. Read along to compare the differences between quartzite and quartz.

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  • Quartzite is a natural stone that is extracted from the earth.
  • Quartz is an engineered (man-made) composite, meaning that they crush up quartz and mix it with a polymer to create a slab.

Which is more stain resistant: quartzite or quartz?

  • Quartzite, due to its natural makeup, may stain if not sealed properly.
  • Quartz isn’t prone to staining due to the polymer chemical blend.

All quartzite is different in terms of porosity and stain resistance as it depends on how tightly the minerals bonded together during the mineral metamorphic process. In general, quartzite such as Sea Pearl and Taj Mahal have highly bonded minerals, while Macaubas may have been exposed to less pressure, making it more porous and prone to staining. Avoid staining from household items by using a sealer, which is typically provided by the installer or fabricator. To maintain this coverage, we recommended to seal your quartzite about once a year with a home application sealer.

Which is more heat resistant: quartzite or quartz?

  • Quartzite is generally resistant to heat warping; however, we would always  recommend using a trivet to protect your countertops from extreme heat of pots and pans – just in case.
  • Quartz is generally not heat resistant due to the polymer that can change shape when in contact with extreme temperatures.

Does quartzite or quartz scratch?

  • Quartzite is incredibly scratch resistant due to its dense mineral composite. While the mineral composite can vary throughout natural materials, most quartzite does not scratch. In fact, it measured around a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, as compared to granite, which rates as a 6.
  • Quartz is susceptible to scratching due to the chemical makeup of polymer. 

Does quartzite or quartz etch?

Neither quartzite or quartz are prone to etching. And if you cook frequently and want to make sure that your countertops are safe from etching, then you might want to consider quartzite. Quartzite will not etch from acids found in household items such as vinegar and lemon juice. However, both quartzite and granite will react to hydrofluoric acid, which is found in some rust removers. Thankfully, hydrofluoric acid is not a common ingredient in household products.

Is it harder to clean quartzite countertops than it is to clean quartz countertops?

No, the cleaning process for quartzite and quartz is the same. Clean both quartzite and quartz using a soft, wet cloth and regular soap. Neither should be cleaned with abrasive cleansers. Learn more on how to clean your natural stone.

 

 

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Aria Stone Gallery’s White Macaubas Honed Quartzite. Image courtesy of Jenkins Interiors.

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Shop Aria Stone Gallery’s Quartzite

See our wide selection of quartzite natural stones, ranging from bold and colorful to soft and white.

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3cm Opus White Quartzite
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3cm Fusion Quartzite
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2cm Red Louis Quartzite
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3cm Audacia Honed Quartzite

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What is Mid-Century Modern Interior Design?

Mid-Century Modern can be a difficult term to define. It broadly describes architecture, furniture, and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century (roughly mid 1930s to 1960s). This timeframe is a modifier for the larger modernist movement, which has roots in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century and also in the post-World War I period. It was an escape from the ornate Art Deco period and a result of the Great Depression that simplified peoples design choices. They wanted the convenience of modern gadgets with a simple and streamlined design, thus Mid-Century Modern was born.

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Calacatta Cremo marble kitchen, sourced by Aria Stone Gallery. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Mid-Century Modern Furniture

Mid-Century modern first became popular in the world of furniture design. With creations like the Eames chair, the sputnik chandelier and the marshmallow couch, Mid-Century Modern taste really began to form. During this time period there was much focus on the space program, and that itself started to matriculate into every facet of design, especially interior design.

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Mid-Century Modern Interior Design

This time period was greatly influenced by the German Bauhaus and their modern and functional way of designing home goods. Bauhaus designers used many non-traditional materials such as metal, glass, vinyl, plywood, plexiglass and lucite in their work. Clean lines, organic curves, and a deep appreciation for different materials (like natural stone!) was a way of life. Bauhaus  inspiration is exceedingly popular even today.

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Wall art featuring Aria Stone Gallery’s Alpinus granite. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Defining Features of Mid-Century Modern Design

  • Functionality
  • Minimalism
  • Juxtaposition of color
  • Exploration of non-traditional materials
  • Uncluttered, open spaces
  • Clean lines
Grigio Italia Marble Fireplace
Grigio Italia marble fireplace, stone sourced by Aria Stone Gallery. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

 

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The “Four C’s” of Natural Stone

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Viola Marble Kitchen

When shopping for a diamond, an expert will tell you about the four C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. This system helps determine the worth of one of the most precious materials on earth. These categories are also comparable when determining the worth of a natural stone slab, although for stone the four C’s would represent color, clarity, country and centimeter. While these are not the only aspects to determine the worth of a natural stone slab, they are certainly a large factor.

Anatomy of a diamondColor

To understand the worth of a slab you must first look at color. In natural stone, color is created when different vitamins and minerals chemically react to one another. When certain minerals react you will see different colors reveal themselves in the slab. There are certain colors that don’t occur as frequently, subsequently making them more rare and valuable. Blues and greens would top that list. Cool tones are of the more rare color families found in stone especially when they appear with such vibrance, such as Aria Stone Gallery’s Blue Bahia Granite.

Blue Bahia Granite Custom Desk
Blue Bahia granite custom desk, stone sourced by Aria Stone Gallery. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Clarity

Regarding a diamond, when experts speak of clarity they are referring to fog that might appear in the stone. However, in a stone slab you are looking for clarity of pattern, such as veining, color consistency, etc. Patterns in the stone vary slightly from material to material and from bundle to bundle – giving you a 100% unique piece, but also potentially creating a challenge while finding the perfect bookmatch. What you want to look for is a distinct, continuous pattern throughout the entire stone. If you are able to point out these distinctive patterns, a seamless bookmatch will come with ease and ultimately create a consistent feel across a space.

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White Beauty marble bathroom, stone sourced by Aria Stone Gallery. Photo credit to Joanie Wyll.

Country

When you are picking out the perfect stone, a large factor to consider is where that stone comes from. With each country there are different conservation and shipping laws, which will contribute to the factors of a stone being more rare, purely due to the fact that it is hard to source. Also, some quarries are more exclusive than others and offer access to only some of the buyers. For example, the Borghini quarry is mined very infrequently. The Borghini quarry mines anywhere from 1-2 blocks per week – roughly 50-60 slabs per block on average – whereas other larger quarries mine a lot more. For comparison sake, Bianco Carrara marble quarries mine 100 plus blocks of Carrara a week (all combined). Therefore, Borghini marble is a lot less common, making it very unique.

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Centimeter

Centimeter is fairly self explanatory, in that it is the thickness and size of your piece of stone. There have been many questions about whether there is a difference in working with 2 or 3cm material. 2cm or 3cm make for the about the same durability in a stone application depending on the use.

Arabescato Gris Marble Bathroom
Arabescato Gris marble bathroom, stone sourced by Aria Stone Gallery. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

 

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What is Traditional Interior Design?

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Kitchen

Traditional interior design takes influence from 18-19th Century European design, with a heavy emphasis on French Neoclassical. A traditional home includes styles from the British Colonial Revival, 18th Century English, and French Country. Traditional design celebrates symmetry. All design elements – from accessories to support columns – are symmetrical to create a focal point.

Traditional Furnishings and Accessories

Antiques with European influence and curved lines are a hallmark of Traditional design. Traditional furnishings are a mixture of comfort, luxury, and history, giving them timeless appeal. Oil paintings, tailored window coverings, plush textiles, and small floral patterns are classic and will never out of style.

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White Macaubas Honed quartzite sourced by Aria Stone Gallery. Image courtesy of Jenkins Interiors.

Natural Stone in Traditional Design

Natural stone is paramount in Traditional design and authentic, natural stone is key. Louis XVI cladded entire rooms and courtyards of the palace of Versailles in marble and quartzite. From there after, designers in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe began to incorporate marble and quartzite into their opulent home architecture.

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Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra marble sourced by Aria Stone Gallery, located in the Christopher Peacock Showroom in Dallas, TX.

Traditional Molding, Edge Details, and Support Beams

Crown molding and ornate edge details on the countertops are small details that will instantly make any design feel more Traditional. Looking up to the ceiling you may find wooden support beams -reminiscent of French Country Traditional – or a coffered ceiling to add dimension and appeal.

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Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra marble sourced by Aria Stone Gallery.

Ornate Hardware

Built in cabinetry with gold or brass knobs and accessories are trademarks of Traditional design.

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Onyx White Extra sourced by Aria Stone Gallery, located in the Christopher Peacock Showroom in Dallas, TX.

 

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What Is the Difference Between Vein Cut and Rift (Cross) Cut Slabs?

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In general, the terms rift cut (also referred to as cross cut) and vein cut refers to the way the natural stone was cut. There is a noticeable difference in the vein pattern of the stone depending on if the stone is rift or vein cut. Read more to learn the main differences between two most common ways to cut blocks of natural stone.

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What does “vein cut” slab look like?

Vein cut is the most traditional and recognizable cut for marble slabs. The majority of marble has a vein cut pattern. Vein cut is distinctive in that you will be able to trace to vein across the entirety of the slab. Stones that are vein cut typically have the ability to be bookmatched or quad-matched to take on a unique shape and style.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Dalmata marble in a vein cut.
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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra with a vein cut. See a similar Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra here.

What does a “rift cut” or “cross cut” slab look like?

Stone that is cut to a 90 degree angle to the bed rock or “from the top” is called rift cut or cross cut. A rift cut stone slab will have more spotting or noticeable crystals visible in the stone.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Lemurian granite in a rift cut. Photo courtesy of Tiffany McKenzie.
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Aria Stone Gallery’s Quasar Quartzite with a rift cut.

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Adventures in the Carrara Valley: Exploring Calacatta Borghini Marble

The Borghini quarry is one of the oldest operating quarries in the Carrara Region in Italy. The Borghini family has owned the quarry for many years and produces the most sought after Italian marble in the world – Calacatta Gold Borghini marble. From Architects in Beijing to New York, everyone is eager to see what the Borghini quarry will extract next.

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The Borghini Quarry in the Carrara Region in Italy. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

The History of Calacatta Borghini Marble

The Borghini quarry is located in the heart of the Apuan Mountains, known as the Carrara Region in Italy. This Italian marble was the primary source of stone for Roman Architecture as well as Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo. This region is known for producing snowy white marble, unlike anything else seen in the world. According to the New York Times, the Calacatta Borghini quarry is one of the oldest quarries in the Carrara region and some of the quarry’s cuts can be traced to Roman Times.

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The ceiling of the incredible Calacatta Borghini Quarry in Carrara, Italy. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

What does Calacatta Borghini marble look like?

Calacatta stone has an very white background with pronounced, yet delicate grey veining that sweeps consistently across the canvas. Calacatta noted with “Extra” on the end of its title means that the canvas is whiter than most. On occasion, the Borghini quarry will extract Calacatta with gold veining or gold hues, which is very rare and makes for an incredible statement slab. While Calacatta Borghini is remarkable, a large, consistent slab of Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra is an exceptionally rare find.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s 2cm Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble, noted as an “absolute perfect slab” by Graziani of the Borghini Quarry

Where does Calacatta Borghini Marble come from?

The Calacatta Borghini marble quarry is located in the opulent Apuan Alps, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, in Italy. The quarry consists of two main areas: the side of the mountain and the interior of the mountain. The side of the mountain is the more common extraction area, and the inside of the mountain is home to the most rare and prestigious Borghini Gold marble.

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Outside looking in. The side of the Calacatta Borghini Quarry in the Carrara Mountains. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Calacatta Borghini Marble Production

Today, production of Borghini marble in the Apuan Mountains is very limited, which makes the stone rare and very sought-after. For example, in quarries across the world, stone is typically sold per cubic meter; however, the Borghini blocks are sold by the ton. This makes each pound of the beautiful white marble, with its famous soft golden background, highly valued in the marketplace.

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The busy Borghini Quarry is one of the most exclusive and prestigious producers of marble in the world. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Where can I find Calacatta Borghini in the United States?

Due to the rarity of Calacatta Borghini marble, there are few retailers in the world – let alone the United States – that have access to sell this majestic marble because Calacatta Borghini is so rare. Exotic stone suppliers, such as Aria Stone Gallery, will have the opportunity to sell Borghini only a few times a year. Aria Stone Gallery also offers the opportunity to visit the Calacatta Borghini quarry in Italy to personally hand-select your stone from the very same mountains that Michelangelo admired so dearly.

Watch to learn more about Aria Stone Gallery’s best Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Yet

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Holiday Entertainment Guide: How to Incorporate Natural Stone

The holiday season is finally here, and this means many there are many opportunities for family and friends to gather together and create memories that will last a lifetime. From intimate family gatherings in the dining room, cocktail parties with passed hors d’oeuvres, to elegant sit down dinners, there are a number of things that you can do to make this holiday season a memorable one.

Gathering Around the Dining Table

Personalize your dining table and turn it into a work of art using a natural stone that reflects the personality of you and your family.

This Calacatta Cielo marble table has a custom petrified wood edge detail, giving the shape of this table an organic and natural feel. The linear pattern in the Calacatta Cielo is reminiscent of the natural striations that occur in wood, tying the two different materials together in a romantic way.

Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Round dining tables are perfect for creating a more intimate, cozy gathering as everyone is able to see everyone else, which allows for a better flow of conversation. This table, designed by April Hannah, was designed using Aria Stone Gallery’s Agata granite and is the newest addition to April Hannah’s Totem Collection, wherein each stone shape interlocks with the other to create a seamless and sculptural form.

Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery, featuring April Hannah’s Lotus Dining Table.

Tablescapes

When setting the table, take notes from blogger, Carrie Colbert, and incorporate pops of color within a monochrome stone setting to set the stage for a bright and cheerful appearance. Customize accent colors based upon your personal tastes and unique creative style to make your setting relatable and bursting with life.

Images from this photo shoot are courtesy of Carrie Colbert, taken in Aria Stone Gallery’s Houston Showroom. Featuring Agata granite Tabletop and Statuario marble bookmatch feature wall.

Accessories and Hostess Gifts

When it is time for you to be the guest at a holiday soiree, don’t forget to bring your host or hostess a gift to show them how much you appreciate their hospitality. Bring a small token of your appreciation such as a marble candle to warm up a cozy space or a personalized custom marble tray from Aria Stone Gallery.

Above photos are courtesy of Aria Stone gallery. The image on the left features Aria Stone Gallery’s custom marble trays using: Colorado Gold Marble, White Beauty Marble, Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble (from top to bottom). The image on the right shows Aria Stone Gallery’s custom marble candle. Price upon request at www.ariastonegallery.com.

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“Stone is Art” Industry Panel Discussion, Sponsored by D Home Magazine

Aria Stone Gallery recently hosted a “Stone is Art” Industry Panel Discussion Event, sponsored by D Magazine. This one-of-a-kind panel discussion focused on stone and its natural artistic characteristics. The discussion featured  a variety of extremely talented industry professionals including Sherry Hayslip from Sherry Hayslip Interiors, Laura Baggett from Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, Botond Laszlo from Marvelous Home Makeovers, and Chris Wynn from Statement Furniture Fabrication. The questions were specifically targeted to each professional’s forte including topics such as stone trends, types, use, applications, and experience.

Q.What is your best piece of advice for someone who is looking to incorporate natural stone into their project?

SHERRY:In a practical sense, be patient and endure and think of it as solving a puzzle. Once you have your preliminary selections made, it is really an adventure to see the beauty of each stone and try to incorporate that in conjunction with everything else that you are doing – not too busy not less – but it is important that you keep in mind that there is nothing more unique except perhaps a snowflake – than beautiful marble because it is natural and it doesn’t repeat its pattern.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Retro Marble, Designed by Marvelous Home Makeovers

Q. What tips or guidelines can you give to help them in their selection process?

BOTOND: Our motto at Marvelous Home Makeovers is exceptional, personal craftsmanship. The process starts with who our clients are and finding out what their needs are. One of the first steps in many of the larger projects is to select the natural stone (i.e. countertop, art piece, or accent piece) and then create the designs around the stone. What I have found with my clients is that natural stone speaks to you. You see over and over again my clients come in they walk the isles and they go back to the first stone that they saw. The process is psychological. Also, for me, observing that thought process during selection and receiving that feedback really helps me to understand who the client is. It gives an insight into what their desires are and who they are  deep inside, which enables me to truly cater to that and create a better experience and better crafted project.

Q. At Aria, we utilize a 1-10 scale grading stone based on clarity, consistency and quality. What are some of the aspects that you look for when you educate clients and customers about natural stone? Are there any types of natural stone you prefer working with over others? Why?

 

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Cielo, Designed by Chris Wynn

CHRIS: First, I listen to my customer to see what it is they are looking for. Once they select a material we view the material to see how beautiful it is, look for any fissures and cracks, look into the structure of the slab to see if it was completed [before extraction] or not. Overall we check to make sure that the client has chosen a quality material. I haven’t ran into any issues here at Aria. Everything that Vinny goes out and chooses is always grade A material.

Q. No stone is 100% perfect, and their can oftentimes be beauty in the imperfections. However, there are a lot of fabrication challenges that are intrinsic to the stone business. In particular, onyx is a very difficult stone to procure due to the nature of the material and that it is often not widely available in large format, along with inconsistencies that lead to needing fill. How do you as a fabricator overcome these obstacles?

CHRIS: There are many different ways to handle this. As far as fissures are concerned, there are different type of epoxies available to assist. If there is a slab of onyx that has an issue I can bring it back to my shop and do “surgery” that needs to be done for the customer. Of course, the fabricator should always explain the process to the customer beforehand, as different epoxies can have different outcomes. There are certain epoxies that you can penetrate and fill cracks with. Sure, natural stone is going to have some hiccups here and there. But they are all soluble if the fabricator has the knowledge to do so.

Stone_Is_Art_Industry_Professionals

Q. In your designs, you incorporate natural stone frequently in your projects. What is it about natural stone that captivates you?

SHERRY: The reason is emotional in that stone captivates me . I just love the idea of this beautiful, gemlike quality being harvested. When I was studying, designers and architects are encouraged to use real materials -natural materials – so that there is an integrity to the things that you create and design. I don’t think there is any way, frankly, to discount the romance of natural stone and the story and history behind it. Once, a client sent us to a quarry in France that had been continuously quarried since Roman times. We climbed up, marked the stone, threw water on it, and the story, the connection, the history – there is nothing more exciting.

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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Extra Marble, Designed by Sherry Hayslip Interiors

Q. Inspiration is everywhere. Can you tell us more about your process and where your inspiration comes from?

LAURA: Most of our projects, our inspiration, comes from the client. Our approach is to find out exactly what the client wants, even though most of the time the client doesn’t yet know what they want. For us it is a puzzle to try and figure out where our clients want to go and where they will want to take the design,  because every one of our projects come from that person.

Q. It is apparent that we believe stone is art, and with that comes some unique applications. Can you talk about what a designer or client should keep in mind when it comes to a variety of applications (floor, wall, pool, outdoors, etc.)?

CHRIS: First, I would think about the application and the durability of the product. For floors, of course marble has been used as floors for thousands of years. And it will wear over the years, but I think the most important part is educating the client on the upkeep of marble. They need to know that the marble is going to get wear and tear – and this is normal. Many companies exist that can resurface marble. Although sometimes manmade materials may sometimes be stronger, you will never get the beauty and look of marble.

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Q. When it comes to designing for commercial versus residential projects, the stone selection can vary as a result. Talk to us about things you consider when designing for each of these types of projects?

LAURA: Everything is client driven, and in the residential world, people mainly react to designs and what inspires them. Most of our commercial projects are very specialized and our clients are attached to them. No matter what, budget always comes into play.

Q. Is there a certain kind of material that you lean towards?

LAURA: When it comes to natural stone, we do not lean toward one type of natural stone for particular applications. It is just a matter of what the project wants to be. To me, it is more of a reaction to the stone itself; and we are going to use that stone where it makes the most sense.

Q. At Aria, we believe every stone is suitable for the application, it just becomes a question of how do we work with the space and with our fabrication partner to achieve the result that we are looking for. As a fabricator, can you speak more to this?

CHRIS: There are quite a few different sealers on the market to help out. One of my favorites is a stone color enhancing sealer that will bring out all of the beautiful colors of the stone, while also protecting the stone. So, in the case that you are using a marble or onyx, you will get more vibrant color, and if you scratch the stone you can put the color enhancing sealer on the scratch – sometimes the scratch goes away completely, sometimes mostly, it all depends on the material.

If you do not want to change the color of the stone there are natural sealers that are impregnating sealers and nothing changes it just blocks the moisture from penetrating the stone.

All stones have pores in them and you are going to want to seal your stone. There are now sealers specifically for limestone – which needs to breathe more than other stones –  and these limestone sealers help to protect the stone, while also allowing for the breathability needed.

Q. Is there anything that you can recommend for etching? Or how do you handle resolving etching?

CHRIS: Oftentimes, people like to use onyx on a countertop or vanity, which can be prone to scratches and etches. A fabricator can come to your home and bring a machine to buff the etch out of the stone. Alternatively, if you are looking for something you can do at home to prevent etching, I would suggest using a high grade car wax – or even a high grade furniture wax – and leave it on overnight and buff it off in the morning. This helps to keep the stone from etching through a lemon, lime, or other household items with high acidity. You, the homeowner, can buff the wax back into a shine. But if you do not use a wax, the acidic chemicals can sometimes penetrate the stone. Both options are a very similar process, it is just a matter of trying to do it yourself or having a fabricator come do it for you.

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Q. What do you look for the ideal kitchen stone? What are you looking for?

BOTOND: Educating the client is always important because each material is very different. For example, very early on in my business about 10 years ago, we did a big white kitchen with all Carrara marble. They had two babies, loved to drink red wine, and I thought the white marble might not go over well, because, at the time there were not as many good sealers as there are now. Luckily, they were the type of people that were really disciplined with taking care of the marble. A few years ago I had the opportunity to go back to the house and their countertops still looked impeccable.

I do not believe there is a set rule about what materials should go where. In general when people hear marble they think “oh no that can’t go in the kitchen” and I always say, “why not?” Marble, in my opinion, looks better 10 years from now than it does today. Marbles creates a patina. Think about copper and how it oxidizes, or think about if you have a leather jacket or briefcase that looks awesome now, but when it is brand new it looks almost rough or too crisp.

Similarly, we have done a project many years ago and it had a lot of gold and copper flakes in the stone and depending on how the light hits and the angle – the stone always appeared differently. Later on, I spoke with the client and they told me that they have lived there for over 5 years and have seen this stone every day and were always finding elements in the slab that we never saw before. That to me is very powerful and unique and you will never find that with a manmade material.

So really educating the clients, and explaining to the clients that you can use any stone and let them know how to take care of it. In my opinion, it all comes down to if you can connect with the stone and when you see it every day in your bathroom or kitchen and think it is beautiful – that is priceless to me.

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How to Turn Your Stone Remnants into Accessories & Gifts

With natural stone slabs coming in all shapes and sizes, it is very often the case that the slab you have fallen in love with may be slightly larger than what you need for your kitchen or bathroom project. Instead of changing your plan and settling for another, slightly smaller stone, think instead how you can incorporate the stone you adore in a unique way. After all, once you connect with your perfect stone, why not enjoy it further throughout your home? Read along to see a few of our favorite ways that you can give your beautiful new remnants life in another form.

Custom Side Tables

If you find yourself with plenty of stone to spare, take a note from Brooklyn-based designer, Peg Woodworking, with the Bastet end table collection, which is available in either a colorful White Beauty or a monochrome black marble, similar to Aria Stone Gallery’s Port Black. The earthy combination of wood and stone is a classic mix, refreshed by confident geometric design. By creating custom accent furniture, you will be able to transition your unique color scheme across different rooms.

Images courtesy of Kate Casey, Peg Woodworking.

Shelving

Why not incorporate the extra marble from your kitchen countertops as additional storage? Shelving is one of the easiest ways to incorporate your remnants. Once the marble is cut to the appropriate size, it is easy to personalize and install.

Or, if you happened to use more than one type of natural stone throughout your house and find yourself with different remnants of all colors, incorporate them into a custom bookshelf in the likes of this one from Muller Van Severen. This tall bookshelf is not only stunning, but it will neatly tie in all of your projects from all over the house.

Cutting Boards & Trays

Turn the smaller pieces of remnants into cutting boards or elegant serving platters in your kitchen. These trays can be created using your remnants or purchased on their own at Aria Stone Gallery. For more information, contact the Aria Stone Gallery showroom in either Houston or Dallas for pricing and customization options.

Photo courtesy of Aria Stone gallery. Aria Stone Gallery’s custom marble trays using: Colorado Gold Marble, White Beauty Marble, Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble (from top to bottom).

Work Space

If you have plenty of stone left over from your project, fashion a stand-alone piece of furniture and create a work space. This blue bahia granite desk is comprised of only granite from the base to the table top.

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Behind the Stone: Red Louis Quartzite

behind_the_stone_red_louis_quartzite

The Red Louis Quartzite was hand selected by Aria Stone Gallery’s owner and founder, Vinny Tavares, on a trip to Brazil. At the time, the quarry had only been open for about two years and was quickly gaining a prominent reputation in the stone industry for mining some of the most rare and magnificently colorful quartzite stones in the world. One of the stones was the Red Louis quartzite, which has a history as rich as the red and sand colored hues that the stone embodies. As soon as Tavares saw the beautiful composition of the Red Louis, he knew that he needed to bring this quartzite to Aria Stone Gallery and share this natural work of art.

Photo courtesy of designer, Benjamin Johnston, taken in front of Aria Stone Gallery’s 2cm Red Louis Quartzite A4249.

Quartzite is typically white to grey, though the stone can be found with various shades of pink and red, which is caused by varying amounts of iron oxide in the soil. Different minerals in the soil give life to different colors of quartzite such as yellow, green, blue, and orange. However, for quartzite to have such rich, red hues, a large amount of iron oxide needs to be present in the environment of the soil, which is rarely found in most of the world.

The red quartzite tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris, France.

Due to the rarity of red quartzite such as Red Louis, this type of material has been favored by royalty and world leaders for centuries. For example, in 1842, King Louis-Phillipe of France commissioned a tomb to be created for the ashes of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I. Blocks of red quartzite were sourced for the tomb to be carved and placed upon a green Vosges granite base. Napoleon’s remains were interred within the tomb in April 1861 and lay today for viewing by the world in the Dôme des Invalides in Paris, France.

 

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It’s All in the Details: Seamless Stone Applications

Ask any perfectionist and they will tell you that it is all in the details. And oftentimes, it is the thing that you least expect that makes the longest lasting impression. Fully cladded marble rooms are a beautiful and opulent design that will not disappoint. Here is inspiration from designers that have gone above and beyond the traditional marble countertops and made a statement with details and design techniques big and small to create seamless application of natural stone.

Inspirational photo courtesy of Il Granito, Belgium.

These cabinets designed and fabricated by Il Granito, allow for a seamless transition of veining from one door to the next. The closets doors, composed entirely of marble were kept in their bookmatch design to transform this storage space into a focal point and a stunning work of art. Get the look with Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Vagli Honed Marble.

Inspirational photo courtesy of Il Granito. Designed by Elena Gimenez Colomar, Fabricated by Il Granito, Belgium.

Natural stone is stunning and we do not want to lose a square inch more than we don’t have to. Allow the material to stand out by blending in with its surroundings. For example, in your shower, rather than cutting out a hole to insert another ubiquitous metal drain, repurpose the cutout stone into the hardware. Not only is the result stunning, but it also cuts down on wasted material. For this effect, speak to your fabricator about using a water jet tool, which can cut precise and small details with great accuracy.

Inspirational image courtesy of Il Granito, Belgium.

We like to think that the places in your home that you visit most often should be the most enjoyable. For city dwellers in a modern townhouse, make every step count by cladding each step entirely in natural stone.

Inspirational image courtesy of Il Granito, Belgium.

Design with the veining and texture of your natural stone. Instead of stopping at the countertops and backsplash, align the pattern in the stone to flow as you use the stone for the facade of the drawers and cabinets for the perfect, seamless transformation.

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Entertaining Essentials: Home Bars for Every Occasion

The home wet bar is essential for any homeowner who loves to entertain. Set the backdrop of your soiree using natural stone and creative design to make your at home bar the life of the party. Here are a few ideas to spark your imagination to become the perfectly prepared host in any situation.

Sleek & Modern

Bright and symmetrical with clean lines and colorful details. The specks of quartz throughout the luxurious hanoi pure white marble shine as they reflect light to create a chic, modern feel. The matching, floating shelves are perfect for quick access when entertaining as well as providing a neat display. The wide isle of this bar makes this versatile and functional, and would be suitable for many different catering and bartending scenarios.

hanoi pure white marble bar
Above: Hanoi pure white marble sourced was from Aria Stone Gallery; bar designed by Cho Interiors. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Masculine Man Cave

For game day or an evening soiree, this masculine retreat was made to entertain. The bar was fashioned using Onyx Nuvolato sourced from Aria Stone Gallery and backlit with an LED panel to cast a warm, calming glow throughout the entire space. The layout of this bar is perfectly suitable for 1-2 bartenders to ensure all of your guests are well taken care of.

onyx nuvolato wet bar
Above: Onyx Nuvolato sourced by Aria Stone Gallery; wet bar designed by M2 Designs. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Creative & Colorful

Make a bold statement with an incredible book match backsplash that reaches from the countertops to the ceiling, such as this Azul Imperiale Quartzite. This pop of color will create a beautiful, artistic statement and liven up any design, particularly if your wet bar is in an open concept home where it can be viewed from many angles (like this one).

Azul Imperiale quartzite wet bar
Above: Azul imperiale quartzite sourced by Aria Stone Gallery; wet bar designed by Deborah Walker. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery

Sommelier’s Paradise

A cellar is a must have for the wine connoisseur. For the expert, a collection of vintage wines is always growing and expanding. The perfect, climate-controlled wine cellar emphasizes organization and display for an easy, visual catalog. The library ladder on a track ensures that all vertical storage is properly put to use. The Stone Wood marble wet bar compliments the dark wood paneling and cabinetry that line the cellar, creating texture and dimension to this design.

stone wood marble wine cellar
Above: Stone Wood Marble sourced by Aria Stone Gallery; wine cellar designed by Hatfield Builders. Photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Bright, Light, & Traditional

The key to perfecting a spectacularly white space is texture and lighting. This monochrome bar displays traditional elements such as the glass window panes on the eggshell cabinets and to the soft light that shines through the linen blinds. But above all, it is the White Macaubas with a honed finish ties the look together with the perfect amount of texture. 

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White Macaubas honed quartzite sourced by Aria Stone Gallery; bar designed by Jenkins Interiors. Photo courtesy of Jenkins Interiors.

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Sherwin Williams 2018 Colormix Forecast & Natural Stone

Each year, Sherwin Williams analyzes pop-culture, behavior, politics, trends, design, and many more to forecast what the top colors of the following year will be. In late 2017, Sherwin Williams released three distinct color palettes which they believe will be the most popular colors used in 2018. These colors are not just for paint alone, but will be the most trending colors in Interior Design. The three color palettes are Sincerity, Unity, and Connectivity. Read on to see how to incorporate natural stone into these color palettes for your next project.

Sincerity

The color palette of sincerity is focused on the less is more point-of-view. Increasingly our lives are becoming more hectic and we find that we have less and less free time. Silent moments are categorized as rare, peaceful, and full of possibility. Society as a whole is more careful than ever to define something as sincere. Aesthetics such as Minimalism, Hygge, Normcore influenced the hushed, hazy color palette. The hues found across this palette have notes of “complex grays and hazy botanicals” that evoke the “blending in is standing out” state of mind.Sherwin Williams - Connectivity Color Palette

Sherwin Williams - Sincerity Color Palette
Photo Courtesy of Sherwin Williams, Colormix Forecast 2018 – Sincerity Palette


Stone Slabs also within the Sincerity Color Palette
Corteccia Marble  Palissandro Extra Marble  Fusion Quartzite  White Mustang Quartzite

 


Unity

Now more than ever, our global perspective is evolving and expanding. We have the ability to interact with many different cultures and travel to remote landscapes. The colors that form unity derives from the notion that “we crave security and adventure in equal measure.” Popular apps such as Airbnb, e-learning and car sharing apps have promoted “everyday nomadism.” The Unity color palette was heavily influenced by artisanal crafts, transculturalism, and indigenous patterns.
Sherwin Williams - Unity Color Palette

Sherwin Williams - Unity Palette
Photo Courtesy of Sherwin Williams, Colormix Forecast 2018 – Unity Palette


Stone Slabs also within the Unity Color Palette

 Audacia Honed Quartzite  Iron Red Granite  Silver Wave Marble  Colosseo Marble

 


Connectivity

The Connectivity palette was designed with data in mind. With influences such as California pop, virtual reality, and environmentalism, it is no surprise that these vibrant colors make a bold statement that will breathe life into any space. These instagram-worthy colors were heavily influenced by their prominence in the tech industry and bring to mind the utopian ideals of Millenial and Gen Z youth culture.

Sherwin Williams - Connectivity Color Palette

Sherwin Williams - Connectivity Palette
Photo Courtesy of Sherwin Williams, Colormix Forecast 2018 – Connectivity Palette

Stone Slabs also within the Connectivity Color Palette

Emerald Sea Quartzite  Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble  Azul Imperiale Quartzite  Onyx Kilimanjaro


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Exploring Geometry, Body, & Space with Hong Kong Fashion Week Designer Winnie Witt
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Exploring Geometry, Body, & Space with Hong Kong Fashion Week Designer Winnie Witt

Aria Stone Gallery's #STONEISART Exhibit
Photo Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Interior Designers often look to fashion and the different fashion week events around the world to get a sense for how styles are constantly evolving and pushing the envelope. Oftentimes, fashion styles are translated into the design world. Recently, Hong Kong fashion week veteran, Winnie Witt, created a collection in where fashion design was created in a way that highlights many of the same design principles that interior designers frequently use.

Aria Stone Gallery's #STONEISART Exhibit
Photo Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Winnie Witt’s Trinity Collection, as seen in Aria Stone Gallery’s #STONEISART exhibit, closely examines three pillars of Winnie Witt’s foundation of style: geometry, body, and space. The Trinity collection is composed of unexpected shapes and silhouettes from a unique and innovative style of pattern cutting.

Aria Stone Gallery's #STONEISART Exhibit
Photo Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Witt is a master in tailoring, which can be seen in her focus bold, architectural designs that offer a full, rounded, asymmetrical silhouette. Every angle of her outfit offers a new outlook to her conceptual designs.

Aria Stone Gallery's #STONEISART Exhibit
Photo Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

Using thing, gossamer-like material to showcase bold, heavy objects, Witt tests the limits of space and physics. Witt incorporated tights and jagged remnants of marble and quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery into her installation to experiment with different types of shape and weight. When the two contrasting elements of sheer tights and natural stone combine together to create a third sense of space.

Aria Stone Gallery's #STONEISART Exhibit
Photo Courtesy of Winnie Witt.

In applying the concept to the design, the garment will appear flat on the surface but its design is to revolve around the body, when you look at it from the side it is a cylinder. The pattern has to revolve around so the body is circular in shape and it gives the garment space around the object.

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Inside the Oculus, New York City

From the architecture of the Romans to Washington D.C., the classic, permanent nature of marble has long been used throughout history as a way to preserve legacy and tell a story of power.

Today in New York City, a modern manifestation of this concept can be seen on your daily commute to work. Designed by the internationally acclaimed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Center transportation hub is the third largest transportation center in New York City. At the heart of the hub lies the “Oculus”. This magnificent piece of architecture is symbolic and stunning both below and above ground.

From below, walking into the Oculus after traveling to the transportation hub by train is a breath of fresh air. The Oculus is a wide-open space filled with grey and white marble floors, white walls, and the white structures and skylight floods the building with natural light. The massive skylight runs the length of the Oculus’ spine and plays a symbolic role in the remembrance of the victims from September 11th. The mixture of white marble and natural light evokes the feeling of peace, remembrance, and importance.

“In all weather conditions, the public will experience a subtle sense of man’s vulnerability, while maintaining a link to a higher order,” Mr. Calatrava said. “The memory of the victims will be honored and explicitly expressed through the most symbolic and significant element of the project,” he continued, “allowing people to spontaneously gather with a sense of transcendence and elevation.”

Above ground, the structure was designed to resemble a dove taking flight. Calatrava wanted the structure to evoke the image of a bird being released from a child’s hands.

Image courtesy of Hufton + Crow

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Tour This Artful & Sophisticated Modern Townhouse

Aria Stone Gallery Sea Pearl Quartzite Kitchen

Designed by a fashion and art buff, this townhouse is stylish with impeccable attention to detail with plenty of show-stopping natural stone design. Each room is styled using cool, neutral tones and plenty of natural light.On the main floor, the spacious living room opens up to the island and breakfast bar, featuring Aria Stone Gallery’s Sea Pearl quartzite. The mitered, waterfall edge on the island has complimentary hues to the artwork found in the living room. The modern, white kitchen cabinets offer an abundance of storage in this vertical layout.Off to the side of the kitchen is a powder room. The silver walls and simple, modern sconces set the stage for the floating Arabescato Orobico sink.

Moving on to our favorite room of the house, the upstairs closet. The second bedroom was converted into this fantastic walk in closet and a clever office space. The closet features a glowing, illuminated shoe wall and plenty of cubbies for accessory storage. A large painting was hung on a track that conceals seasonal items and suitcases. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to get ready for their day around all of this beauty.

The Master bathroom is a pure-white haven, clean and simple. The homeowner chose a Bianco Extra Marble countertop with his-and-hers sinks with simple modern finishings.

To wrap up this stunning perfection is the guest bathroom. This space may be small, but it is certainly not short on style. The Arabescato Orobico vanity is complete with a waterfall edge, which pairs nicely to the grey glass subway tile shower.

Arabescato Orobico Marble Vanity with Waterfall Edge

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History of the Brazilian Stone Market

Today, most of our most exotic and sought after natural stones hail from Brazil. Brazilian natural stones, most notably marble and quartzite, are famous for their unique composition, color, and natural beauty. Read more to discover the history of how Brazil came to be a major player in the stone industry.

The Gold Rush

The beginning of the stone mining industry in Brazil is believed to coincide with the beginning of the gold rush in the early 18th century. Gold was discovered in Brazil after years of economic disarray following the war against Spain and the Netherlands.

Quickly after the gold was discovered, a gold rush ensued, with people from other parts of the colony and Portugal flooding the region during the first half of the 18th century. The gold was extracted inland, known as the “General Mines.”

The Discovery of Brazilian Marble by the Italians in 1970s

In the 1970s, Italians immigrated to Brazil and discovered white marble deposits near the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Brazil. As the Italian immigrants had been mining natural stone for centuries, they were able to bring the knowledge, technique, machinery, and craftsmanship that is involved in mining natural stone. After this discovery, Brazil quickly became a major player in the stone industry.

Technological Growth and the Expansion of Natural Stone Mining in the 1990s

By the 1990s, Brazil had accumulated a large, experienced workforce in the natural stone industry. Quarries and miners gravitated towards nearby granite quarries, where they were easily able to transfer their skills of mining marble to mining granite. This expansion in resources lead to Brazil’s granite boom.

It was also during this time that Europe started to advance technology to cut and process stone, which drastically sped up up the mining process of natural stone. This new technology, coupled with the abundant resources in Brazil yet to be mined, made Brazil the largest stone exporter in the world.

Pictured above is a newly quarried White Mustang Quartzite from Brazil. Photo by Aria Stone Gallery.

The Discovery of Quartzite

With this new technology at hand, the search for additional types of natural stone to mine continued. Quarries were set up in Espirito Santo, in the North towards Bahia, and in the Northeast of Brazil. Some explorers even went inland, to states like Minas Gerais or the interior side of Bahia and Pernambuco, which led to the discovery of quartzite.

Because quartzite evolves from sand grains, it is no surprise that much of quartzite, such as Taj Mahal, is lighter in color. On the other hand, in Brazil, minerals are carried through the sand grains by groundwater, creating some of the most unique and colorful quartzite in the world. Fusion Wow, Emerald Green, and Explosion Blue are all great examples of this geologic phenomenon. Today, the most unique and colorful quartzite is being mined in Brazil.

Brazil from the 1990s to Today

Although Brazil had suffered an economic crisis in the 1990s, the stone industry was able to quickly rebound with vigor. Even today, natural stone is a leading export and driving force for the Brazilian economy.

Now, there are more than 300 export processing plants in Brazil for natural stone, as well as hundreds of quarries and blocks being exported to Italy, China, India, and Taiwan where the stone can be processed. The production now covers a large variety of stones, including granite, marble, flagstone, quartzite, slate, soapstone, serpentine, travertine, and limestone, to name a few.

Sandy beaches of Brazil. Photography by Aria Stone Gallery.

 

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Designer Spotlight, Chicago Edition: Aimee Wertepny of PROjECT Interiors

Authentic, high-drama, and unexpected, Chicago’s PROjECT Interiors founder, Aimee Wertepny, is leading the charge for her high-end take on grit and glam design. In this special Chicago edition of our Designer Spotlight series, we sat down and had a one-on-one conversation with Aimee to learn what inspires her and how to achieve her signature look.

Photo Credit: Green Cherry Photography

Q. Architecture is very prevalent in Chicago, how does the architecture influence your interior design choices for commercial projects? 

I’m incredibly lucky to have a company that is headquartered in a world class city like Chicago, known for its incredible skyline and architecture- steel and glass is a no-brainer here! I’m inspired every day just leaving my apartment, which is in the historic neighborhood of Wicker Park. There are art deco period buildings, greystone walk-ups, turn of the century churches, as well as public art works, graffiti installations and classic A-frames, punctuated with recently developed modern style dwellings. I pull that influence into my interior schemes- grit with glam, modern, edgy and rustic all melded into one scheme. I appreciate classic details for sure, but the mid century modern architecture that Chicago is known for is my personal favorite- those Mies Van Der Rohe buildings are timeless, and I’d like to think my work is as well. Modern architecture is all about clean lines, beauty in simplicity and an unfussy lifestyle, which is a part of my design ethos. “Interior revival” is what I call it- as it states on the back of my business card in a scribble I can barely read 🙂

Photo Credit: Tony Soluri

Q. Natural stone has long been a part of art and design in Chicago. What is it about natural stone that captivates you? What type of stones do you and your clients in Chicago gravitate towards? 

Nothing compares to the impact a quality natural stone has on a space. It immediately exudes a sense of calm, because, as a natural product, it reflects the beauty of nature. I think Calacatta marble is timeless, and I use it all the time for hard surface specifications- especially in the leather finish. I’ve been especially drawn to the bold and textured slabs recently, such as Panda and Pietra Grey– I can’t get enough of that elephant skin looking slab!

Photo Credit: Cynthia Lynn Kim

Q. All of your designs are incredibly personal with a refined and modern aesthetic that is true to the client’s personality and desires. What are some of the unique design directions that we will be seeing in your future 2017 Chicago projects as they are completed?

I’m really digging street art, dream catchers and macramé these days. Bold color and patterns- but only the “weird” stuff. Tribal and deconstructed influences will still run steady through our work- and architecturally there will be blackened steel, brass reveals, black lacquer, stone and porcelain slabs, matte black and rose gold hardware, angular facets and tunnels, portal entries- we love a portal.  There’s a drastic mix of transitional suburban to glass box and steel structures that make us want to take more risks in materials and details in all of the above. We’re always searching for the unexpected which certainly pairs nicely with the client who is willing to go there- which we are seeing more and more. *heel clicks*

I love to travel, and this year is all about Latin- Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, which is destined to influence my work and train of thought- I’ve even enrolled in Spanish lessons! So maybe some bright colors (um, did I say that?) with splashes of mezcal + rum for sure. Vamonos!

   __________________________________________________

AIMEE WERTEPNY

Matchmaker to gutsy and glamorous,
a chic co-consipirator with smoldering
curiosity and an earth driven heartbeat,
she’s a Chicago girl that prefers not to
waste time on the dress rehearsal.

PROjECT founder Aimee Wertepny
established the studio nearly 10 years ago— all indie rock, now-or-never sweat and stamina—after realizing the solo gig wasn’t for her.

On her watch, PROjECT is an organic-glam-mashup a curated, layered, collected trip. Luxury cut with a little grit, surfaces that purr— her seductive rip-shred aesthetic atones for the laconic sins of beige and invites an intriguing totem.

Travel and charity fill her spirit, but as the all for one ethos of the studio, she’s the irrepressible 90s girl who takes the side entrance instead of waiting in line.

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Designer Spotlight: Marie Flanigan Interiors
Architectural Digest Show 2017: Natural Stone for Every Room

What to Watch: 2017 Fall Trends

Fall is right around the corner and we have carefully taken note of the best trends and styles that you will want to include in your next project.

One way to enjoy color and create a cohesive look is to start with a neutral palette and add splashes of color. The Breccia Capraia Marble is an incredible marble, known for vivid mixture of white and dark grey veining. This marble also has simple, jewel colored hues that add bursts of color to create a polished look. By adding neutral, earthy elements such as wood and your favorite colorful fall flower arrangement and you will have a lovely, sophisticated design.

The old “you can’t wear white after Labor Day” rule definitely does not apply to this modern, white wonderland. The trick for creating the perfect, crisp, clean, look without making your space feel too clinical is texture, texture, texture. Aria Stone Gallery’s Hanoi Pure White marble has flecks of sparkling quartz throughout, which adds dimension and texture to any project. Finish this project with textiles in cool, complimenting colors that are warm to the touch.

Get swept away in a colorful sea of blue. Aria Stone Gallery’s Azul Imperiale Extra Quartzite is everything you need to make a colorful statement wall that will command attention. Perfect for a bookmatch design, the veining moves over the canvas as waves on the beach, instantly transporting you back to your summer vacation during these upcoming chilly months.

Classic and forever stylish, high contrasting black and white statements are staples for interior designers, such as Lucinda Loya, who ensures that “all of her projects include contrast, but all have color.” Marbles such as Dalmata and Panda are perfect for achieving this powerful look.

Add a feminine touch to your design with pink materials and textures. With colors like Millenial Pink being at the forefront for 2017 trends, we are also seeing designers and homeowners becoming more comfortable using pink in fun and unexpected designs. One way to create a lively, unexpected design is to use a material such as Onyx Kilimanjaro, which has the ability to be backlit with an LED panel. This natural stone has pink and red hues in the sunlight and emits a warm, rich amber glow when backlit.

Stripes and lines are a favorite amongst designers for creating movement and playing optical tricks making spaces feel longer and taller.  The White Macaubas Quartzite is an elegant natural stone that has a linear pattern of dark grey, creamy white, and sandy brown that will tie in your design and create that  grand space you have been searching for.

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What Makes an Aria Quality Slab?

Here at Aria Stone Gallery, we talk about how we have the most unique and beautiful slabs; but what does that mean? How are Aria’s slabs different from the rest? Aria’s owner, Vinny Tavares, travels around the world, from the Carrara Region in Italy, to the quarries of Brazil, to hand select every slab that is brought to Aria. What is it exactly that Vinny is looking for when he purchases Aria’s slabs?

Quality over Quantity

In the natural stone industry, many stone suppliers will carry stock colors and commercial-grade materials that they always have on hand. Aria Stone Gallery focuses on quality over quantity and does not carry stock materials. If we sell out of a material and find that the quarry isn’t currently producing a slab that meets our standards for that same type of material, we won’t bring it in. Instead, we will wait until the quarry finds another incredible and rare bundle.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Standards and Criteria for Purchasing Stone from the Quarry

When our owner Vinny goes to a quarry, he uses a set of standards, where he grades every slab of stone from 1 to 10. The quality and uniqueness of slabs are graded based upon the 5 factors: richness of color, structure (i.e., whether the slab is sturdy or has core holes), size, vein composition, and natural quality. Vinny only purchases slabs that are considered a nine or ten.

  • Grade 1-2: Should not be mined from the quarry.
  • Grade 3-6: Lacking in 2 or more of our quality standard test.
  • Grade 7-8: Okay material, but lacking in one of the standards.
  • Grade 9: Nearly perfect in color, composition, structure, size, veining, quality.
  • Grade 10: Perfect in color, structure, size, veining, quality.

How does Aria mitigate between beauty and natural fissures?

Sometimes when a stone is more exotic, it is more delicate. The reason many stone suppliers don’t carry exotic material is that it is a risk to transport internationally. The stone supplier really has to know how to move the material safely. Sometimes things are so beautiful, they are worth the risk.

Has Aria ever sent material back because it arrived in a lesser condition than you bought it?

Yes. Once Aria’s material arrives in the states, our staff inspects each slab, and if the slab is not up to our standards, it will never make it to either Aria’s showroom or online. For example, not too long ago we received a bundle of Lemurian. When the quarry polished the surface, they did not allow enough time for the drying process before the slab was loaded into the crate. So, when the slab was unloaded in the States, the slab had cracked and had huge divots everywhere. In this case, we would send the material back to the quarry rather than selling the stone at a discounted price.

How are Aria Stone Gallery’s standards different from other stone suppliers?

We are providing to a niche. Aria stone Gallery’s product is just a fraction of what is out there. As mentioned before, we do not carry stock products, staple colors, or low-to-mid grade exotics. In the off chance that we do have a middle grade exotic, it will be the most beautiful middle grade exotic that the quarry has every produced. Typical stone suppliers tend to carry five to ten percent of the quality that is stocked at Aria.

Unlike buying a man-made product, which can be done on demand, purchasing stone is a much more subjective exercise. Quarries go through bad phases, yielding undesirable blocks, and they often face regulatory issues, all of which restricts the fine buying or what Aria calls the “pursuit of the perfect stone.”

Many stone distributors are primarily focused on filling purchase orders – and that may be okay settling for an ordinary slab. At Aria Stone Gallery, we don’t sell ordinary slabs – we don’t have a standard list of “stone we carry”. The good thing about natural stone is that new quarries are always being discovered, new blocks are constantly being processed and you never know when the most dramatic slab is about to be cut. It’s a bit like baseball – the trick is not to fall for the temptation of swinging at every pitch. At Aria Stone Gallery we would rather be out of a popular stone color than have a mediocre slab in stock.

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Inspiration from Milan
Brand New World-Class Quarry Experience, Only at Aria Stone Gallery

Colorful Quartzite Condominium

Aria Stone Gallery Quasar Quartzite Kitchen

This condominium, designed by Salem and Associates, packs in large amounts of color, style, and functionality to create an elegant abode in a relatively small space. Floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry in robin’s egg blue ensures abundant, stylish storage. This bold cabinetry is complimented by the amalgamation of chocolate, cream, and rust hues that are found in the Quasar Quartzite countertops and backsplash, sourced by Aria Stone Gallery.

The galley kitchen layout with a large isle ensures maximum efficiency when cooking and prep space for everything to Sunday dinners to cocktail parties. The Quasar Quartzite is a full backsplash that extends from the countertops to the ceiling, giving the space a continuous feeling of movement, texture, and artistry. 

The master bathroom ties in the style throughout the condominium with walls painted in the same family as the robin’s egg blue cabinetry seen in the kitchen. Here, classic wood paneled custom cabinetry and crystal sconces make this room feel elegant and timeless, while the white and creamy hues of the Casablanca Quartzite countertops sourced from Aria Stone Gallery ensure that the space is well-balanced and bright. 

 

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Manifesto for Natural Stone 

We had a chance to sit down with Vinny Tavares, owner and founder of Aria Stone Gallery, who shared with us his manifesto for natural stone and what he believes makes natural stone an irreplaceable art form.

What happened to waiting for the great things in life to present themselves when the time is ripe? And further, what does this mean in the context of natural stone?

You cannot rush natural stone. No one can dictate how the next block – or using today’s direct-to-consumerism phrase – the next “batch” will look. Only nature can dictate which direction the veining will run or how white the background will be. No one can set parameters or define the “next production” for natural stone. The “next production” may not come until next spring because the winter was too wet in the Apuan mountains. Winemakers cannot simply reengineer their grapes into the next special Bordeaux vintage. Not only do you need the right conditions, the proper soil, weather, and temperature but also the right attitude: you cannot speed through the process and expect greatness. Some describe this art form as the ability to work or respond to the environment in an appropriate matter. This couldn’t be truer for marble.

Unfortunately, all of that means you can’t really pre-design a marble slab. There is not a machine where you press “start” and voila, out comes the perfect marble slab on the assembly line. Maybe this quest for the perfect surface is what led to the creation of quartz slabs. But if quartz is indeed better, why model quartz after natural stone? Why can’t it stand on its own, by its own design? Where is its authenticity?

Does producing 300 identical slabs per day seem special? Maybe it seems special if you are the only factory creating it. But what happens when there are 300 factories creating it? Are all those slabs as special as their manufacturers aspire to convince us to believe? Or is it just another mass-produced reinterpretation with the intention of tricking us into believing it is a better version of the original? Fake pearls, anyone?

Whether it’s synthetic fabric, artificial turf, or engineered stone, you can’t out-design the real thing. However, that doesn’t mean the attempt to standardize Mother Nature shouldn’t have its place in society. But we can’t kid ourselves that quartz slabs items are in the realm of luxury. Two key aspects associated with luxury are scarcity and genuineness, and both aspects are lacking in these Calacatta-esque slabs. Processed cheese, anyone?

Some of the most succulent apples might come with spots. But it’s much better than the chemical, bountiful, perfectly shaped alternative. As the song goes: “Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT. I don’t care about spots on my apples, leave me the birds and the bees.” The same thing can be said for natural stone. Fissures and natural pits are part of the natural process. That’s where craftsmanship and human ingenuity play an important role. We don’t need to kill the bees to enjoy the apple. We only need to incorporate these aspects in the art (process) of harvesting the fruit. What do we call again the ability to work with what the environment has to offer?

I personally would rather work with truly special things. Things that are subject to the spontaneity of nature and are outside of our control. Things that maybe at first frustrate us more than we are willing to understand. But eventually the “thing” always reveals itself. The same way that a shiny piece of plastic is not diamond, that faux leather is not parchment, that nylon is not cashmere, and that forcefully compressed quartz minerals blended with artificial pigments and chemicals IS NOT genuine stone.

At Aria we promise the real thing, the best nature has to offer. It might not be “human expectation” perfect but it’s the best that has always been and probably ever will be. We are proud to work with the natural elements in their most genuine and authentic form, which in our case is the naturally perfect marble slab.

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Whimsical White Macaubas Kitchen

In interior designer, JanAnn Cowden’s eclectic Fort Worth retreat, the kitchen’s bold turquoise backsplash and oversized lanterns with a matching inlay bring a refreshing pop of color to the space. With a perfect mixture of neutrals with pops of color, JanAnn from Kyle Knight Design, incorporates this vivid bright hue to evoke excitement and optimism to the space, while balancing it with the use of cool neutrals.

White Macaubas Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery

To gracefully complement the space JanAnn chose Aria Stone Gallery’s White Macaubas quartzite with a honed finish for the countertop surfaces. With an elegant pattern of light grey and sandy taupe striations on a field of creamy white, this neutral piece beautifully marries contemporary with classic. And being a dense stone, White Macaubas is the perfect surface to keep up with their (soon to be) three daughters.Another lovely detail is that they ran the stone up the wall to the base of the window to break up the honeycomb patterned, turquoise tile from Artistic Tile. This stone also comes in polished, but to keep with the contemporary aesthetic, they decided to have it finished in a honed texture.This home magnifies the fact that beauty is in the details. With custom features such as the built in glass shelves and focal point lighting, this space is truly one of a kind.

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Mid-Century Modern Calacatta Extra Kitchen and Living Room

aria stone gallery calacatta extra feature wall

This open concept home features Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra marble in a beautiful bookmatch, centered around a mid-century modern aesthetic with natural elements that add warmth to the overall space. The kitchen features a breakfast bar and island with a mitered, waterfall edge for an elegant yet dramatic look.

Calacatta Extra Marble Kitchen and Feature Wall
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

SHOP CALACATTA MARBLE

The delicate veins in this Calacatta Extra align for a dramatic artwork presentation that is the center of attention in this open plan dining and living space. The versatility of Calacatta marbles make for one-of-a-kind patterning that is exclusive to each block of stone. This home was designed by SHM Architects and beautifully fabricated by Il Granito.

Calacatta Extra Marble Kitchen and Feature Wall
Prestigious Italian Calacatta marble in an incredible bookmatch design. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

SHOP ITALIAN MARBLE

The remnant portions of the fireplace make for a unique continuation of the design, creating a space that effortlessly flows from one area to the next. The juxtaposition of the rustic elements mixed with the refined, classic look of marble beautifully marry in this artistic and visually inspiring space.

Calacatta Extra Marble Waterfall Island and Feature Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

SHOP CALACATTA MARBLE

Calacatta Extra Marble Feature Fireplace
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Extra Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.

SHOP CALACATTA MARBLE

 

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Backlighting Onyx Q&A

As described by The Natural Stone Institute, onyx is a frequently translucent and generally layered, cryptocrystalline calcite. Onyx is a sedimentary rock that is usually deposited in cold water solutions, often in the form of stalagmites and stalactites in caves. Through this formation, cryptocrystalline is created and the size and uniformity of these crystals is what contributes to the classic translucent property of onyx stone.

Dating back to the Egyptians, onyx was used to create bowls and other decorative elements and nowadays onyx is commonly used to create jewelry, decorative surfaces, and wall materials. The unique patterns and striations, in addition to a wide range of colors, make onyx the perfect material to add a dramatic focal point to a space. One of the many appeals of nature’s beautiful onyx is that it has the ability to be backlit due to its unique translucent properties. When a slab of onyx is able to be backlit, it is able to take on a completely new life, showcasing the unique veining while adding additional ambiance to a space with a subtle glow.

The key to backlighting is using the correct LED panels to ensure an even coverage of light and eliminating any “hot spots.” To further analyze key tips when it comes to backlighting, we connected with the backlighting expert himself, Patrick Dwyer from Knema LLC (dba LuminousFilm), and picked his brain so you can backlight with confidence. Read on.

Backlit bar features Aria Stone Gallery’s Onyx Caramello at The Grove Restaurant
When Quartzite is mostly pure Quartz (the mineral), it may also be able to be backlit. Image of Quartzite in Aria Stone Gallery.

Q. What do you need to consider before lighting a countertop? Power source? Size? Material? Is there anything that is different about lighting a wall vs a countertop?

A. Actually, not really. As long as you are mounting the panels to a surface and securing them with something like mirror clips, or c-channel you should be fine.

Q. What should you know before choosing an LED bulb for backlighting onyx?

A. When picking a light color, you should be aware of the overall affect it will have on the room. Do you want to contrast or match existing light fixtures? And you should be aware of how the light will affect the color of the stone. If you have a honey onyx using a very warm color temp (2700K for example) would help bring out more of the yellows in the stone.

Image of Aria Stone Gallery’s Backlit Onyx Black Cloud.

Q. What are the LED backlighting color options? 

A. Our panels have two main color options. White light LEDs (ranging from ~2700K-6000K) and we have RGB LEDs, which allows for millions of different color options.

backlit onyx

Q. How much does it cost to backlight a stone?

A. Cost per square foot varies greatly depending on the project and the products used. Variables such as the thickness of the stone, distance of panel from the stone, and how translucent the stone is can affect the square foot price greatly. Generally, we find the cost to run roughly ~$45-100/square foot.

Backlit bar featuring Aria Stone Gallery’s Onyx Nuvolato. Designed by M2 Designs.

Q. What is the maintenance on the LED lighting panels?

A. Typically there is very little – to no maintenance on the products.

Backlit bar featuring Aria Stone Gallery’s Onyx Fantastico. Designed by DeLeo & Fletcher.

Q. How often do LED panels need to be replaced? 

A. If properly installed, the panels should last a very long time. We usually end up replacing power supplies before we replace panels. Our LED edge-lit panels have an L-70 rating of ~50,000 of continual use and our large LED modules have and L-70 rating of ~120,000 hours of continual use.

Note: L-70 is a rating that means that at 50,000 / 120,000 hours our lights should still produce 70% of their original brightness.

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Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar and Lounge at The Grove Kitchen & Gardens
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How Hard is Your Stone? What You Need to Know About the Mohs Hardness Scale

Why is it that marble scratches easier than quartzite? Is quartzite harder than granite? To first begin to answer these questions, quarries and stone suppliers begin with the Mohs Hardness Scale to help classify a natural stone.

Mohs Hardness Scale - Aria Stone Gallery

What is the Mohs Hardness Scale?

The Mohs Hardness Scale was developed in 1812 by a German geologist and mineralogist, Friedrich Mohs to determine the relative hardness of a mineral as a comparison to another mineral. For example, the scale begins with the softest material, talc. All materials above talc have the ability to scratch talc. The second material is gypsum, and since talc is below gypsum, talc is softer and thus not able to scratch gypsum. As you move up the scale the minerals become harder and harder, ending with the strongest mineral: diamond.

What else should I consider when determining my stone’s strength?

Understanding the strength of a slab is not black and white. While the Mohs Hardness Scale is certainly a worthwhile resource to provide a general guideline, it does not provide all of the information for a natural stone slab. The Mohs Hardness Scale only takes into consideration the strength of a single mass element – or the purest form of each mineral. This is like asking, “what is the flavor of Neapolitan ice cream?” And while, in general, your quartzite is harder than your granite, or your granite is harder than your marble, keep in mind that natural stone is a product of mother nature. Meaning, no two slabs are alike and each has its own similar, yet unique composition. This composition, much like human DNA, is what makes each stone a beautiful, unique work of art.

How does a quarry classify stone?

When a stone is purchased from the quarry, the quarry