History of Stone

When you buy natural marble, granite, slate and limestone, you are looking at materials which may be as much as 300 to 500 million years old. They are from parts of this world that have been constantly shifted by continents and seas, earth movements, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Some stone may even contain fossilised remains of shells, fish, animals and plants.

Although essentially there are only three types of rock – sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic – the form they take has evolved into a myriad of combinations and characteristics. It is their sheer variation and beauty which makes the stone the ultimate recycled material in any setting.

Any single quarry or source may produce considerable variations in the colour and veining of the marble, granite, slate or whichever stone is extracted. It would be wrong to expect or look for uniformity of appearance – each type or piece is unique and has different characteristics.

What gives stone its unique character?

Sedimentary rock is produced when some of the earths material is washed or blown around and then settles through time and under pressure to form rock. Limestone and travertine are just two of the many impressive types of stone which are created through this process. Some types of sedimentary rock, such as those found in river beds and sea beds, can polish up into superb slabs of stone showing the special formation and character of their origins.

Igneous rock is the result of magma, the molten rock beneath the earths surface, having cooled and solidified, often trapping complex and precious minerals within its structure. Their crystals can be seen as flowing layers or may occur randomly, both giving rise to wonderful effects when the surface of the stone is cut and polished. Granite is one of the most common examples of igneous rock, providing an extremely hard but uniquely attractive work surface. Its great variety of colours come from the range and formation of minerals it contains.

Metamorphic rock is formed when either of the above two rock types is put under intense heat and pressure below the earths crust. The deeper the rock beneath the surface, the higher the grade and the greater the likelihood of stunning colour combinations. Slate, by contrast, is formed much nearer the surface, meaning its grade is low by comparison. The high grade stone we use is from deep down in the earth, with metamorphic stone such as marble often showing striking features where it has been stretched, compressed and fractured.