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.