Marble is a very unique stone because depending on where it was excavated, it will have different colours and characteristics in each slab. Marble is a beautiful, natural stone that and has been hidden underground for millions of years. We are now seeing the wonders of this magnificent stone.
While marble is extracted in many different countries, it is most commonly associated as being from Italy. Italian artists, architects, designers and engineers have been using marble from Italy for centuries. The most popular varieties of Italian marble all have very distinctive Italian names such as: White Carrara, Calacatta, Bardiglio, Red Verona, Portoro, Pietra di Trani, Custonaci, and many others.
This article will discuss eight things that you might not have known about Italian marble.
1 – Architects and Designers Love It – Marble is a very versatile material in that it comes in a variety of colours and patterns, but is also very strong and durable. If you are going to make a statue or a monument, you want it to be able to stand the test of time!
2 – Extraction and Transportation Techniques Have Improved – Marble is a very hard material, making it very durable, but also very heavy. Marble is made into large slabs that have to be cut out and transported to factories and homes around the world.
They started out long ago just using the natural cracks in the stone and then using hammers and wedges to break apart the stone. Over the years, they started using dynamite and now use special saws that allow for large cuts of the marble. The most modern tools are diamond wire and diamond saws that are exactly what they sound like.
For transportation, the Italians used to simply slide the stone down the hill to the cities. Nowadays, there are train tracks everywhere and if that doesn’t work, there are trucks that can handle the immense loads.
3 – The Countries That import the Most Italian Marble – Italian marble is becoming a very huge and popular industry, with $3.5 billion of raw, semi-finished and finished stone being exported around the world in 2015 alone. The Italians are currently exporting marble to more than 140 countries around the world.
The United States is by far the biggest importer of Italian stone. They are then followed by Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. As with a lot of other high end items, places like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are emerging as huge buyers of the beautiful stone.
4 – The Purity of Colour and the Veins – The colours and veins of the marble depend on where the marble was quarried from around Italy. The colour basically depends on the content of three minerals:
However the main shades, with all of these combined colours still usually ranges from pure white to pearly white because of the calcite.
5 – There is Lightweight Marble – One of the major drawbacks to Italian marble is the fact that is so heavy, making it difficult to transport and install (read: expensive). One designer, Margherita Ricciardi of Nice&Square, has developed a new type of marble called Stonewave. It is a custom-shaped, lightweight aluminum moulding that is surrounded covered in hand-finished marble slats. It is one-third lighter than straight marble and is also durable and resistant to bending.
6 – Finishes – There are many options for finishing the Italian marble these days, as opposed to just polishing the marble which has been the standard treatment. With the new advances in cutting technology there are any number of new ways to achieve the look you desired. With the new machines, cutting is extremely precise and greatly cuts down on waste and accidental cracking or chipping.
7 – Experimentation – Again, with the new ways to use cutting tools, technology, and even 3 D mapping, architects and sculptors are able to create amazing works of art and even household items like customized bathtubs, sinks, countertops, tables, steps, and floors that have never been done before.
It is quite interesting what can be done these days with modern technology and stone that is millions of years old!
8 – The Duomo – The symbol of Milan, Italy is the Duomo Cathedral and it was constructed of Candoglia marble in 1387. The Duke of Milan founded the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano and charged them with designing, constructing and conserving the cathedral, which they still do to this day.
They replaced the red clay bricks with white marble with pink streaks. They got the marble from the quarries of Candoglia and transported them on the waterways of Italy for free. The foundation still gets marble from Candoglia in order to do restoration and repairs on this amazing cathedral.