Here at Aria, we always talk about how we have the most beautiful slabs; but what does that mean? How do you judge what is beautiful and what isn’t? Vinny Tavares, hand selects every slab that is brought to Aria. So, we sat down and asked him exactly what he looks for in a slab that comes to Aria.
What are the criteria you use when looking for a type of slab for Aria?
“Many other stone suppliers will carry stock colors and materials that they always have to have. We don’t carry anything stock. We don’t have to fill a certain quota, so you won’t find something standard here. If we have sold out of a material, and the quarry isn’t producing the highest quality slab, we won’t bring it in. We have the luxury of waiting until they quarry in the best spots.”
When Vinny goes to a quarry he uses a set of standards. He grades every stone from 1 to 10. To him a one shouldn’t even be mined in the quarry, and ten is 100% perfect and new. A three to six would be okay material, and usually inexpensive. Vinny only buys nines and tens.
The factors he looks at are:
- Rich Color
- Structure (whether it is sturdy or has core holes)
How do you 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 this material is that it is a risk to transport, and even more delicate to fabricate. You have to really know what you are doing to move it and use it. Sometimes things are so beautiful, they are worth the risk.”
Are their countries you don’t shop because they don’t produce quality material?
“Not really. There are just some countries I don’t visit because they don’t have a developed enough industry, so they tend to send any material to larger producing countries like Italy.
There are some countries that focus more on commodity grade stone, like China, and don’t often have truly exotic material.”
Have you ever sent material back because it arrived in a lesser condition than you bought it?
“Yes. Once Aria material arrives in the states, our staff inspects each slab, and if it isn’t up to standards, it will never make it to the Aria Showroom. For instance, not too long ago we received a bundle of Lemurian. It is a very expensive stone, and when they were polishing the face, they didn’t give it enough time to drive before loading it. When it was unloaded, it cracked and had huge divots everywhere.”
How are Aria standards different from other companies?
“We are providing to a niche. Our product is just a fraction of what is out there. We don’t have any staple colors, and middle grade exotics are not something that we carry, specifically for granite. Some companies will tell you they carry exotics, but they are generally middle grade exotics. We have some middle grade exotics, but it will be the most beautiful middle grade exotic that the quarry has every produced.
Other companies might have five or ten percent of the quality that is stocked at Aria.