The Marvel of Marble in Your Kitchen

Marble is the ideal stone for every room in the home - kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, foyers and more. However, few people understand exactly where marble comes from and how it is harvested. This non-foliated metamorphic rock is made up of a slew of re-crystallized carbonate minerals. The majority of these minerals are dolomite and calcite. In the world of geologists, marble means limestone that has metamorphosed. Masons consider it un-metamorphosed limestone, which encompasses much more of this raw material. Popular for both sculptures and building materials, the unique look of marble instantly adds value to the home.

Marble (or marmaron in Greek) means crystalline rock or shining stone, which is an apt name for the stunning material. As one of the most in-demand and luxurious materials for countertops and flooring, it is created when sedimentary carbonate undergoes metamorphism. Via metamorphism, re-crystallization causes a unique mosaic design of the carbonate crystals. Elements in the original rock, protolith, drastically change or are destroyed during this process.

Sparkling White

Some marble is completely white, which occurs when the purest limestone or dolomite undergoes metamorphism. When you notice more swirls, veins and other characteristics typical of marble, that is actually the result of more impurities. Chert, sand, clay, silt, iron oxides and other impurities are natural in limestone and dolomite, but are considered impurities. Green marble comes from serpentine-a product in which a lot of dolostone or magnesium limestone is combined with silica.

The impurities are often linked to where the original material is sourced. For example, Italy is known for carrara marble in Tuscany, which is often blue/gray or pure white. Ireland is renowned for Connemara marble, which is green, and coincidentally quite patriotic, considering the source. In the United States you will find Creole marble, particularly in Georgia, which is often white or a blue/black blend. Also in Georgia, Etowah marble is popular and has a rosy, salmon or pink hue. Finally, Georgia also boasts murphy marble-a pure white.

In Greece, you will find white, fine-grained Parian marble in the South Aegean area or Paros Island. You can also head to Attica or Mount Pentelicus in Greece for a similar color and texture, but with semi-translucent aesthetics. Many countries that offer foundational marble materials, from the United Kingdom to Russia, have their own unique characteristics-which makes choosing your marble's origin crucial.

Works of Art

Marble often used in construction, particularly on countertops and flooring, can be dolomite, serpentine or calcite. These types can take a polish quite well, which is desirable in home construction or upgrades. However, in the construction industry, it is important to note that marble can be a catch-all phrase to define any type of crystalline calcitic rock (and sometimes non-calcitic options). This luxurious building material has grown considerably in popularity in recent years, with the U.S. Geological Survey reporting that 2006 production reached over $18 million for over 46,000 tons. In the few years leading up to the Great Recession, demand rose 12 percent, with the most popular application being tile.