Answers for many of the Frequently Asked Questions - advantages of natural stone over artificial materials, difference between granite and marble, how to take care of natural stone, technical aspects of fabrication and installation of granite and marble, and many more…

Friday, September 23, 2005

Natural stone – durable yet aesthetic through millennia

Ancient as the earth itself; made from the very same gas and liquid that solidified to form the earth, natural stone brings grace to many architectural wonders from the dawn of civilization to the present day. From ancient monuments like the pyramids in Egypt and the majestic splendor of the Greek and Roman architecture to the great civilizations of India and China, right through the Renaissance period, natural stone is no longer the preserve of Royalty and the Affluent today. Popular as never before, natural stone remains the first choice for many homeowners and businesspeople for its durability, competitive pricing and aesthetic appeal.

A wonder in itself, natural stone traces its origins to heavy minerals pushed deep to the core by the earth’s crust when gas and liquid cooled to form a solid core. When the crust grew thicker, bearing pressure upon the inner core, generated heat from mineral vapors crystallized into solid forms. As the earth’s crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits –the quarries we use today to mine natural stone like granite and marble. The entire journey took no less than100 million years!

It was around 2500 B.C., though that the Egyptians built the first known natural stone monuments – the Pyramids – from granite and limestone. The famed Great Pyramid or Pyramid of Cheops was built using massive granite blocks. The later Temple of Dendur, now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, still glows magnificently, its haunting beauty accentuated by the sandstone it is constructed from.

Other civilizations soon followed. The Greeks are famous for their magnificent Temple of Artemis, the marbled pillars of the Parthenon and their pools and baths, lined with marble. The rise of the Roman Empire saw colossal structures like the elliptical Coliseum with its arches, and tiered seating for 50000 people, and widespread use of granite and marble in buildings like the Pantheon pillared with Egyptian granite. And despite the dark ages, the use of natural stone continued through the medieval period in churches, like the Notre Dame in France and official residences through most of Europe.

Back in the West, the Renaissance and its discovery of improved methods of quarrying and technical use brought innovation and novelty to the use of natural stone. Michelangelo fashioned sculptures from marble; ornate decoration of facades gained popularity

Until about a century ago, this style remained in vogue. Then a shift in decoration styles as a result of changing cultural thought and industrial processes brought in a wave of functional design - it was no longer stylish to be decorative.

But the last decade or so generated new ways of thinking. A new consciousness of the environment- of using eco-friendly materials- brought architects to the drawing board again to find aesthetic yet cost effective, durable and environmentally friendly alternatives to manmade materials. They recognized the popular demand for creating a unique interior, a decorative one yet again, but using materials that could create a homely feel to suit many preferences. One they could use to create the warmth of an old country cottage or a palatial residence. Or anything, from a sleek singles apartment or a stylish family home to a period house or a zany open plan studio. What better place to start than natural stone? This time significant advances in technology aided them.

It transforms a four-walled house or apartment into a comfortable home, into warm colors, or a fusion of vibrant ones, infusing warmth and creating a relaxing atmosphere - creating a haven far from the strains and stresses of the modern day world.

For these very reasons, more and more people use natural stone today than ever before. After all, it has withstood the ravages of time over the last 4 billion years. Considering the fact that natural stone is as old as creation, as ancient as time and space as we know it, you cannot but feel a sense of awe at the marvel and beauty of its creation. Since the Egyptians first used granite and limestone, nearly 5000 years ago, the use of natural stone, its quarrying, fabrication and technical testing have only improved and become more sophisticated over the millennia, making it an affordable, attractive and feasible alternative for most people