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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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Aria Stone Gallery’s Port Black and Sahara Noir marble add a touch of masculinity and flair to this once-empty, white boxy house.

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Smart Design: Offices That Impress

Aria Stone Gallery Mercury White Marble Feature Wall

These designs are guaranteed to brighten up every day at the office with earthy and eye-catching natural stone showstoppers. Whether you are trying to make a grand first impression or set the tone for an important conference, these offices will make a statement.

This stunning feature wall of Mercury White marble makes for a grand entrance that you will not forget. Not only are clients greeted on the way in with a stunning natural work of art, but they are also able to enjoy the stone on the interior of the conference room.

EXTERIOR: Aria Stone Gallery’s Mercury White Marble was used in this feature wall designed by Keaton Interiors.
INTERIOR: Aria Stone Gallery’s Mercury White Marble was used in this feature wall designed by Keaton Interiors.

Set the tone in the executive offices with a sophisticated boardroom, such as this one at Grande Cheese. The Architects at Gensler fashioned a slab of Calacatta Retro marble into a sleek conference table that means business.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Retro Marble Boardroom Desk at Grande Cheese. Credits: Ryan Gobuty Photography, Gensler Architecture Company

Pairing clean lines and a symmetrical bookmatched design is welcoming and evokes a sense of serenity. The floating marble design mixed with the dark wood paneling creates an eye catching focal point on this stunning natural work of art.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble Reception Desk designed by PDR Corp

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Everything You Need to Know about Quartzite

White Macaubas Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery

Quartzite is one of nature’s most precious natural stones and has become increasingly popular due to its extremely durable surface, unique patterning, and diverse colors. Whether you are using quartzite for your countertops in a high-traffic kitchen or a statement wall application, here are all of your questions answered about this incredible and highly sought after stone.

Where does quartzite come from?

Quartzite evolves from sand grains, which is why it is found in areas with beaches, desert dunes, or riverbeds. As sand grains are buried and compressed, they fuse together to form sandstone. As the sandstone continues to be buried deeper and deeper, more heat and pressure cause the sandstone to compress. In this state, the sand grains lose their original shape and transform into 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 parts of the world such as Brazil, minerals are carried through the sand grains by groundwater, creating some of the most unique and colorful quartzite. Fusion Wow, Emerald Green, and Red Louis are all great examples of this geologic phenomenon.

Taj Mahal Leathered Quartzite
Taj Mahal
Fusion Wow Quartzite
Fusion Wow
Emerald Green Quartzite
Emerald Green

 

 

 

 

 

2cm-fusion-quartzite
Fusion
Emerald Sea
2cm Red Louis Quartzite
Red Louis

 

 

 

 

Does quartzite scratch or etch?

The long and tedious process of sand compression and heating leads to an incredibly dense and durable stone. To put this in perspective, the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness 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 measure at 5 on the Moh’s 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.

If you cook frequently and want to make sure that your countertops are safe from etching, then you might want to also consider quartzite. Quartzite will not etch from acids found in household items such as vinegar and lemon juice. However, both quartzite and granite react to hydrofluoric acid, which is found in some rust removers. Thankfully, hydrofluoric acid is not a common ingredient in household products.

White Macaubas Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery
White Macaubas Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery, designed by homeowner.

Does quartzite stain?

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. Use a sealer to avoid stains from common household items. Seal your quartzite about once a year with a home application sealer to maintain this coverage.

Azul Imperiale Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery.

What is soft quartzite, calcitic quartzite, or dolomitic quartzite?

According to the Marble Institute of America, there are many products on the market that are labeled as “soft quartzite,” “calcitic quartzite,” and “dolomitic quartzite”. Note that these products share only some of the same properties as quartzite. With marble, calcite, and dolomite all rated around a 3 on the Moh’s hardness scale and quartzite rated at 7, these varying labels are typically trying to convey that they fall somewhere between a 3 and a 7 on the Moh’s hardness scale. Meaning, they are harder than a marble, calcite, or dolomite, but softer than a quartzite.
It is important to be aware of the difference as marble, calcite, and dolomite are softer and therefore more susceptible to scratching, etching, and staining than a true quartzite. Of course, these effects can be lessened by using a sealer, but it is helpful to know beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings.

Sea Pearl Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery.

How do I test to see if I have a true quartzite?

Household kitchen acids such as lemon juice and vinegar will not etch quartzite. One way to test if you have a true quartzite is to put lemon juice or vinegar on your stone and let it sit. Wait for 15 minutes and then wipe up your test area and look for an etch. Depending on the coloring of the stone, etching may look more dark, light, or dull than before. If any etching occurs then it is not a true quartzite. For this test, sometimes it helps to take before and after pictures to best compare the results.

Sea Pearl Quartzite Kitchen
Sea Pearl Quartzite from Aria Stone Gallery.

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