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{marvelous marble}

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There has been a recent resurgence of marble in design, leading style forecasters to herald its comeback, but certain it never went away . . .

Marble is a metamorphic rock form composed of coarse crystals from limestone or dolostone rocks. (If you remember from your geology classes, metamorphic rocks are rocks that have changed from one form to another by the high pressure and temperature environment of the Earth). This metamorphic process causes a complete recrystallization of the original rock into an interlocking mosaic of calcite, aragonite and/or dolomite crystals.

There are many, many types of marble, from Bianco Carrara to Calacatta Imperiale to Fior Di Pesco Carnico, only to name a few. Some types of marble are named after the locations of their quarries, for example, Black Marble from Kilkenny, Ireland; Boticena and Onyx(Green) from Pakistan; Carrara and Luni from Italy; Macael from Spain; Royal White from China, and Makrana from India.

{marble coffee table in a New York loft}

The word ‘marble’ comes from the Greek marmaros, meaning “glittering” or “shining stone”. When polished perfectly, marble gives a soft glitter that seems to come from the inside, and when rays of light penetrate it, marble comes to life and gives off pink, yellow, grey, blue, greenish, reddish, brown, and black tones, as well as various other beautiful colour combinations.

{a stunning marble facade elevates the look of this office designed by 3rd uncle}

The characteristic swirls and veins of many colored types of marble are usually caused by mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides, or chert which were originally present as grains or layers in the limestone. Green coloration is often due to limestone with high magnesium content or dolostone with silica impurities which have been mobilized and recrystallized by the intense pressure and heat of metamorphism. A recent post, {luxury is in the details}, gives an example of green colouration in marble and {beautiful bathrooms} showcases some beautiful marble bathroom fixtures.

{ring coffee table by autoban}

The temperatures and pressures necessary to form marble usually destroy any fossils and sedimentary textures present in the original rock. However, if you look closely at certain varieties such as Verona, Fossile Marrone, Jura or Rosso marble, you may be able to glimpse the shapes of ancient shellfish, corals, petrified algae, and shells. Some types of marble with quartz and pyrite ‘veins’ glitter with crystal and golden tinges.

{marble fireplace in a hotel lobby}

Pure white marble (the kind favoured by Michelangelo) is composed of the mineral calcite, and is the result of the metamorphism of very pure limestones. White marble has always been popular for sculpture and building construction because of its beauty and relative softness. This softness, however, also makes it vulnerable to weathering, as the calcium carbonate content in marble is easily damaged by acid rain.

White marbles, like Carrara in Italy, Royal White and Bejing White in China, have been the number one choice for sculpture since classical times. This preference has to do with the softness and relative isotropy and homogeneity, as well as a relative resistance to shattering. Additionally, the low index of refraction of calcite allows light to penetrate into the stone before being scattered out, giving a “waxy” or life-like look to marble sculptures of the human body. The Venus de Milo, Parthenon, Zeus of Olympus temple, columns of Artemis temple in Ephesus,(one of the Seven Wonders of the World), were all made of soft white marble.

Whether it’s Carrara or Bianco Perlino or Rosso, a status symbol, a floor, or a fountain, there’s no denying the luxury and glamour of marble, and its timelessness by all of the history that it represents.

{the venus de milo}

{images: Elle Decoration, 3rd Uncle, Autoban, Livingetc}

16 Notes
  • Stellar post! Very well-researched and informative w/gorgeous photos.I love marble, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Thanks, A–it almost didn’t happen–this week has been crazy with work and events after work, so I haven’t had as much time for posting as I’d like, so I really appreciate your lovely comments!

  • What a wonderful lesson! I particularly was interested in the Carrara bits because I just put it in my kitchen. Thanks!

  • Thanks, Katie! And I just checked the post about your kitchen (I’m afraid I haven’t had much time in the past week to do my regular reading) and your counter top looks gorgeous!

  • Jess said...

    I loved this post! Informative and well-written, with lots of amazing pictures. Your blog is the best I’ve seen in ages.

  • Anonymous said...

    great post, well researched! Thabks I learned a lot.

  • Thanks, jess and anon!

  • Love the new banner!

  • Thanks, C&C! (Was finishing some design work this weekend and got a little side-tracked . . .)

  • the thought of something as timeless as marble making a comeback makes me giggle. You’re so right.. it never went away!

    Something as fabulous as Carrara is just impeccably timeless. But I am happy to see it being celebrated as an ‘in’ material again (ha!) Michelangelo and so many others can’t have been wrong.

    By the way… I agree with everyone else…talk about well researched!

  • Thanks, Franki! And very well put–how can something that’s timeless make a comeback? The only good thing about marble being used more in interiors is that there is more availablity and more selection due to demand, so we can fill our homes with Carrera to heart’s content.

  • That marble kitchen is LUXE! Love these pictures.

  • Thanks, Brilliant–and that kitchen has more marble than I’ve seen in most–why stop at a counter top when you can make the whole thing marble :)

  • Wonderful post. I only wish I worked in an office as beautiful as the one by 3rd Uncle. I love the wood floors.

  • Thanks, me, myself, & i–and I completely agree about the 3rd uncle office–wouldn’t it make going to work much more fun?

  • Hyder said...

    Especially love the interior created and depicted in the second picture. A perfection of marble and interior design!

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