Blue Roma Quarry - A Definitive Guide to Quartzites

The Definitive Guide to Quartzite

Use Natural Stone is a great online resource for learning everything natural stone.  Here’s a great article we found on a Guide to Quartzites. It answers a lot of commonly asked questions about one of our favourite Brazilian stones.

Read the full article, The Definitive Guide to Quartzites by  Karin Kirk here.


The Definitive Guide to Quartzite

Quartzite may be the most confusing natural stone out there. A quick internet search will reveal an unsettling disparity of information. Some people say it etches. Some say it doesn’t. Sometimes you hear it’s a hybrid between marble and granite. Yet, others report that it’s harder than granite. Which is it? Why are there such conflicting reports about quartzite?

Let’s use my favourite tool – geology – to suss out the answer to this mystery.

I’ll get right to the point: quartzite is commonly mislabeled. Some quartzite is the real deal, but sometimes marble or dolomitic marble are labelled as quartzite. Because each of these stones behaves differently, people might understandably conclude that quartzite is variable. But it isn’t; quartzite has very consistent properties. Unfortunately, it has variable labelling.

Emerald Green - Victoria Stone Gallery

Emerald Green Quartzite at VSG.

What is quartzite?

Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made almost entirely of the mineral quartz. Quartzite begins its geologic life as sand grains, perhaps on a beach, desert dune, or riverbed. Over time, the sand grains become compressed and stuck together to form sandstone. If the sandstone gets buried ever more deeply underneath layers of rocks, it gets hotter and more compressed. With enough heat and pressure, the sand grains lose their original shape and fuse to their neighbours, forming a dense, durable rock. The process is similar to individual snowflakes merging into solid, glacial ice.

Quartzite is usually white or light-coloured because quartz sand is light coloured. Additional minerals carried by groundwater can impart hues of green, blue, or ion-red. Van Gogh and Azul Macaubas quartzites are examples of vivid colouring.

Regardless of colour, quartzite is made of one thing: quartz. That’s helpful because quartz has distinct properties that make it easy to tell apart from other minerals. (Note I’m talking about the mineral quartz, not the composite countertop material that is also named quartz.)

Properties of quartzite

Hardness

You needn’t be a geologist to appreciate the hardness and durability of quartzite. Not only does this make for a tough stone, but it also makes it easy to tell quartzite from the imposters. Quartz is 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. That means it’s harder than glass and harder than a knife blade. These things are easy to test with a sample of stone.

Mohs Hardness Scale - A Definitive Guide to Quartzites

If a rock that is labelled as quartzite is soft, then it was mislabeled. The unfortunate term “soft quartzite” has emerged to try to explain why a rock that is labelled quartzite is actually not hard and durable like real quartzite. There is no such thing as soft quartzite though. There is only one kind of quartzite and it’s hard. A rock labelled as soft quartzite is most likely marble.

Resistance to acids

Quartzite will not etch from acids like lemon juice or vinegar. If a rock labelled as quartzite becomes etched from acid, then it’s been mislabeled. Marble and dolomitic marble, on the other hand, will etch from these acids. Dolomitic marble etches slightly more slowly than regular marble. But quartzite will not etch at all from normal kitchen acids. Not one little bit!

Porosity

Quartzite has a range of porosities. Some, like Taj Mahal or Sea Pearl, have been highly metamorphosed, and the minerals are bonded together tightly. White Macaubas and Calacatta Macaubas have been exposed to less intense pressure, so they are more porous and will benefit from sealing.

Things that do not help distinguish quartzite from non-quartzite

The country of origin, price, or the name of a stone are not reliable indicators of what type of rock you’ve got. In many cases, it’s not even possible to tell marble and quartzite apart visually.

What’s the difference between quartzite and granite?

Granite is a whole separate category of rocks that form from liquid magma. Visually, granite has distinct flecks of darker colours in it, while quartzite has either no dark colours at all or has subtle, flowing areas of different colours.

Sometimes quartzite is mislabeled as granite, which is not the worst mistake because they have similar properties. Granite and quartzite are both harder than glass, and neither will be etched by acids. Geologically, they are different classes of rocks, but that is less important than how they will behave on a countertop or as floor tile.

Shop our range of Quartzites.


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Super White Dolomite benchtops

Specialists in Super White Dolomite Benchtops

It’s no secret here at VSG that we take pride in our evergrowing selection of Super White Dolomite benchtops. This stunning, Brazilian natural stone is not only aesthetically pleasing but high performing too.

So, it comes with no hesitation when we suggest Super White to customers looking to renovate their kitchen and bathroom benchtops.

Super White Dolomite benchtops

Super White Dolomite bathroom

Quarry Photo Credit: Chris, Victoria Stone Gallery.

With our director based in Brazil, we are fortunate to be directly involved in the journey of the slabs. From the quarry process to the selection of the blocks, from the South of Bahia, Brazil to Victoria, Australia.

Quarrying in the process at the Super White quarry

When stone shopping we get a look into the Super White quarry itself. Here, Chris hand selects and shares with us the best of the best blocks. We narrow down our choices by discussing what’s important in having the right selection and what the customers want to see at VSG…

Large format slabs.

Variety in style.

Consistent quality.

A range of cost.

Currently, we have Super White slabs up to 3.25 metres wide which makes for a wow-factor kitchen island or benchtop. If you want larger, rest assured all of our slabs are processed to be bookmatched.

We stock a regular supply of Super White and Super White Calacatta. But over the next few months, we will be loading up our gallery with Super White Dark, Super White Arabescato,  and Super White Grey.

All of which come from the same supplier. And are quarried and processed by our Brazilian team with great care and love for the stone.

A hand picked bundle of Super White for VSG

VSG Directors on site picking out stunning blocks of Super White to send back to Melbourne

In terms of look, cost and quality, there’s a Super White for everyone. We ensure to stock a range that reflects a spectrum of cost, to cater all of our customers. The Quarry grades the product depending on its

What makes Super White Dolomite benchtops so special?

Super White is  a unique makeup of Dolomite  marble and Quartz. Dolomite is harder than your typical marble and being aided by Quartz veining, it makes for a strong, durable, less porous benchtop option.

Unlike the precious marble that it looks like, Super White is also less prone to staining and etching.

Super White Dolomite benchtops

Super White Dolomite stone slab available at VSG

Super White Dolomite benchtop maintenance.

SW is a great option for the household and outdoor application. But, it still requires care and maintenance.

It should always be sealed by your fabricator or installer and we recommend re-sealing it about once a year, depending on the usage and exposure to household products and sunlight.

Treat it like any other stone! Clean it on a daily basis, wipe spills up as soon as possible and don’t put hot pots and pans straight onto the surface.


Want to shop for Super White? Browse our Super White Dolomite selection or contact the team for more info.

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Carrara v Calacatta – What’s the Difference?

Carrara v Calacatta

A look into a Carrara quarry.


Carrara v Calacatta.

White marble, dark-veined, Italian origin.

Both stones are highly desirable and have been used for centuries. From the construction of cathedrals to Michaelangelo’s most famous sculptures to your next-door neighbour’s kitchen benchtop.

These white marble beauties have been quarried from the Carrara mountains since antiquity and show no signs of stopping – this is where the most volume of marble in the world is produced!

So what’s the difference?

For two types of natural stone that are quarried from the same region of Carrara (but from different parts of the mountain!) and commonly mistaken for the other, there are a few points of differences that set each marble apart. Here are 3 quick ways to tell how.


Colour

Carrara marble comes in varying shades of blue-grey, described as being “muddier in colour” when next to a piece of Calacatta.  The veining is smaller, softer and tends to be more linear. Sometimes Carrara can appear granier.

A true piece of Calacatta marble is pure white, with darker, more dramatic and prominent veining.  People have believed for many years that the more expanses of white on the stone, the more desirable.

Carrara and Calacatta are easily told apart by their veining. All photos of actual stock.

And from both Carrara and Calacatta comes more different styles. Statuario is a version of Carrara but with bolder, bigger expanses of grey veining. Calacatta Oro is a stunning varation of Calacatta, with chunky gold veining.

All photos of actual stock.

Availability

Carrara is the most common stone from the Carrara region, and is produced in abundance! You’ll find no shortage in the mountains nor the household.

Just some of the Carrara range available at Victoria Stone Gallery. All photos of actual stock.

With Calacatta however, there is less availability and it is much rarer.  This plays a big part in why Calacatta is considered one of the most luxurious and sought-after marbles.

Carrara v Calacatta

Calacatta Extra bookmatched. All photos of acftual stock.

Price

Believe it or not, Carrara can be as inexpensive as Granite. Because of its availability, it is generally a lower cost than the rest of the Carrara grades.

But we are talking the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to the cost of Calacatta. Considered the most luxurious, this is the most high-end, high-priced natural stone you’ll find on the market. They say, the whiter the Calacatta, the higher the cost.


Does this mean one may be more maintenance than the other? No. Besides the difference in price and popularity, Italian marble is still made up with calcium which means that both Carrara and Calacatta are porous and more susceptible to etching. But, with the right amount of TLC and upkeep of a protective sealer, a Carrara benchtop will see you through for many years.

Now just to decide – Carrara or Calacatta? Consider the look that you like and the budget that you can work with. We’ve got the availability covered right here!

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Brazilian Quartzites Quarry

6 Reasons Brazilian Quartzites Rock!

Brazilian Quartzites are fairly new to the natural stone application game.
These unique, high performing stones look like marble, act like granite but are yet to be fully recognised as much as its counterparts, for their worth.

We are pleased to stock a wide variety of the most exclusive and unique Brazilian Quartzites to Australia. Quartzites are a perfect option when shopping for a stone benchtop – here are 6 reasons why!


1. The most exclusive stone to come out of Brazil.

Brazil is famous for the hard quartzites that it produces and sends around the world.  There is a huge quartzite belt surrounding the state of Bahia, approximately 3000 square kilometres in size, hosting a huge variety of colours, ranging from the White of Macaubas to Nebula right through to the most amazing Emerald Green.

Photo Credit: Chris van der Linden, Director of Victoria Stone Gallery and Nova Stone.

2. Harder than granite.

On the Mohs scale of hardness of 1 to 10 (10 being the hardest), Quartzite measures in at 7, with Granite behind in between 6 and 6.5. This difference will give extra protection from scratching and etching when it comes into contact with acidic materials.

3. Most cost-saving natural stone.

Pricing within the Quartzite range can vary – there’s something for everyone! But even at the most higher end, the extra cost will be greatly compensated by the low maintenance and longevity of the material.

5. It can be applied anywhere.

Quartzites are a diverse natural stone option, suitable for both residential and commercial sites. The strength and durability of the stone make it a perfect option for kitchen benchtops, bathrooms, outdoors, or any high-use area.

Quartzites for bathroom

Nebula Quartzite used in a bathroom

5. You won’t find anything else like it.

Quartzites are a relatively new product amongst the oldest construction material known to man.  The hardness of this type of stone has always challenged the quarrying and processing engineering. The production of larger quantities has only recently become possible due to new resins, abrasives and block cutting technologies.

Brazilian Quartites

Nebula bookmatched in-store

6. It’ll last you a lifetime.

The only thing you need to worry about is blunting your knives!


Shop our Quartzite range!

Something to consider
When selecting a quartzite for your home or project, check that your stonemason has worked with this natural stone before. The harder the stone, the harder it is to cut!


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New Black Granite Skyfall Quarry

New Black Granite Exclusive to VSG

Exclusive to Victoria Stone Gallery, from Brazil, is our new favourite black granite, Skyfall.

This low maintenance, high-performing, jaw-dropping, black granite is perfect for those wanting a real statement piece – suitable for any application.

Skyfall is a new material quickly gaining recognition, come and see it for yourself!

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

The stunning Skyfall quarry is located near Cachoeiro, Brazil.

Our suppliers visit the quarry weekly to check out the blocks being produced, before selecting them for VSG.

The journey is inspected closely throughout its processing stage.

New Black Granite Skyfall Quarry

It is followed right up until it is seen out the door by VSG Brazilian-based director, Chris.

We’re proud to bring Skyfall Granite to Australia.

Get in touch with the team for retail or trade pricing, and sizes.

Shop Skyfall and the rest of our Granites!

Jet Black granite kitchen benchtop

Jet Black Granite – An Alternative to Zimbabwe Black

Jet Black Granite – An identical alternative to Zimbabwe Black

Jet Black is one of the finest-grain, natural black granites on the market.

The slabs are naturally the darkest, untreated, and best-performing.

Jet Black is one the hardest natural stones. Perfect for kitchen benchtops, bathrooms, fireplace surrounds, amongst many other applications. 

Available in the highest quality of all finishes; polished, honed and leathered.

Jet Black an alternative to Zimbabwe Black

Source: architecturaldigest.com

Shop Jet Black, a great alternative to Zimbabwe Black Granite.

Jet Black slab, alternative to Zimbabwe Black

Smeg's White Induction Cooktops

Induction Cooktops & Stone Benchtops

Induction Cooktops are hot on the market right now!

They are super-fast heating, instantly responsive to changes in temperature settings, easy to clean and look immaculately sleek.

These new-age stove tops generate heat using electromagnetism, rather than gas or electricity making them much more energy efficient out of the three. Induction cooktops cook food faster and lose less heat in the process as they generate heat directly to the pan.

We have had customers through recently asking if induction cooktops can be installed into natural and recon stone benchtops. And the answer is yes.

Here are some looks that we’re loving right now.


Smeg’s all-white induction cooktop. Also available in black – but look at how flawless it is on a Calacatta marble benchtop.

Smeg's White Induction Cooktops

Smeg’s all-white induction cooktop on Calacatta marble

 

Smeg's White Induction Cooktops

Smeg’s White Induction Cooktop

Binova’s invisible hob built into a recon marble-look benchtop.

Binova's invisible Induction Cooktops

Binova’s invisible induction cooktop


Convinced yet? Browse our catalogue online and see what stone surface you would pair with an induction cooktop!

NEW: Hard Marbles that behave & perform like a Quartzite or Granite


All photos are of actual stock.


Available exclusively at Victoria Stone Gallery.


Arrange a viewing to see the slabs and let us tell you more about them!


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Hard marbles being quarried in India

Hard Marbles from India / Less Worry in the Home

Often we have customers come into our gallery who have already ruled out picking marble as their natural stone kitchen benchtop or island. Some don’t want to deal with the maintenance and others are under the impression that all marble is too delicate.  This can be true if looking at Italian or Greek marbles which need a little extra TLC. They require being resealed more often and are more absorbent and porous compared to a quartzite or granite. But here, we have a huge selection of hard marbles from India and other parts of the world.

These are slabs that are classified as marble but perform like a quartzite or granite and are a perfect option for your home!

Geologically, how are these hard marbles harder than your typical soft marble?

From the beginning of the natural process, sedimentary stones start with limestone; a compacted seabed of crushed shells.  This is the softest and most porous of all the marble family. The top powdery layer of the limestone bed doesn’t contain any of the seashells but more of a fine powder of crushed shells and lime. This mix compacts very well and is what is called a dolomite.  Dolomites are typically harder than limestone, thanks to its fine powder that compacts better.

When the limestone or dolomites are further compacted with heat and pressure, they enter a metamorphism process and become marbles. If the compaction is extreme, this is when the resulting marble can turn harder and denser.  Think of Greek or Italian marbles not getting to this point, hence them being softer, less dense and more porous.  This stage in the process establishes the difference between soft marble and hard marbles.

There is no scientifically proven answer as to why these harder marbles are coming from Indian quarries.

Maybe because they have been quarrying for much shorter than the 2,000 years that the Carrara mountains have been excavated from. Some have speculated that the Indian quarries have been untouched for so long that the minerals have been left beneath the crust of the earth to crystallize under heat and pressure for a longer period. Or it could simply just be due to the forces of nature over millions of years.

Not only do these harder marbles quarried in North India outperform the Greek and the Italian marbles but they come in such a wide variety of different colours and patterns. They are also the noticeably inexpensive option. Here’s what’s out in the market:

Fantasy Brown is a well known Indian hard marble amongst the industry.  Its makeup, performance and its type is summed up perfectly below, from the article Is Fantasy Brown a Marble or a Quartzite?.

“It mostly does perform like a quartzite or a granite. It’s a great stone. Geologically it does have some calcium carbonate & thus is a marble. A very hard marble. Even so, we have never noticed it etch, but since there’s some calcium carbonate we called it what it is – marble (just in case).” – Jeff @ Architectural Granite and Marble, Ltd. (AG&M).

Other common Indian hard marbles are:

San Simone
Aba White
Mercury Black
Bruno White
Atlas Green
Cyprus White
Chateau Blanc
Rainforest Brown
Eclair White

As it goes for any stone, we do still strongly suggest to our shoppers that sealing is a must for these hard marbles.  The slabs are still compromised with calcium carbonate that reacts with acidic substances.  A sealer applied by an industry professional will protect and buy you much more time to wipe up spills that can react with marble!

 

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New Marble Arrivals at VSG

We have new marble arrivals and our warehouse is filling up quick! After just over a year here in Melbourne’s South East, we are about half way to full capacity of beautiful large format natural stone slabs. We love getting new shipments and arranging the new slabs in our gallery. Our most recent shipments have been of white marbles that are absolutely gorgeous. There’s nothing like seeing it in the flesh, so get in touch to make an appointment. In the meantime, here are some slab photos for you to enjoy.

Statuario Marble

A premium grade white marble from the famous Carrara region in Italy.

"Slab

Venatino Marble

Venatino is a very popular white and grey marble from Carrara. It is a super affordable Carrara marble, so is commonly used for domestic and commercial applications.

White and grey marble available at Victoria Stone Gallery

Venatino slab 2018

Elba Marble

Elba marble is a white and bluey-grey Greek marble, very popular in the Melbourne market. We have beautiful, clean, large slabs, 3 metres by 2 metres!

Slab of Elba Marble available at Victoria Stone Gallery

For more information on these, or any other of our stones just get in touch.

– The team at Victoria Stone Gallery.


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