For those of you who have been to Italy, you already know there is incredible beauty everywhere you look. Our Wine and Design travel group first spent time in Venice where the canals and architecture are picture postcard perfect. This image was taken at just about sunset after a day of rain while on my way to the hotel. I mean seriously…does it get any more beautiful than this?
Well yes, it does because then a few days later we traveled by bus to Verona and drove past miles and miles of lush green countryside and vineyards. This image was taken right out of the bus window while driving down the highway. Imagine my angst that we were driving by all these picturesque towns and I was on a moving bus shooting through a glass window. If only the window had opened I would have hung right over the side of the bus and risked my life to get a better shot.
Then of course there were the many vineyards we visited. Can I just say, this must be what heaven looks like.
So with all this scenic beauty I didn’t think there would be much else that would wow me…until we went to the Antolini Stone Yard. Oh…My… Goodness. If you think you’ve seen granite and marble, you haven’t seen anything unless you’ve visited the world’s largest stone yard. It was one of the highlights of the trip for many of us. The stones are sourced from all over the world and initially cut into 8′ blocks. I had never seen anything like it. The variety was endless and the stones were every color imaginable. They had the more common granites and marbles but it was the rare and semi precious stones that knocked my socks off.
As we were guided through the showroom it was the same feeling as if we were being guided through an art gallery.
Every single slab was unique and every single stone was a masterpiece of nature created through time, pressure and elements. I took a couple geology classes in college and as our tour guide was giving us a little history of the stone and how it was formed I remembered how much I loved those classes.
Many of the stones were very “busy” and would be statement pieces for sure. We were told many are used in commercial application such as for flooring or a focal wall in a lobby or as a bar top.
Our entire group was oohing and awing over each and every stone.
This one below looks like cracked ice. Imagine how beautiful this would look as a bar top or used in a spa or bathroom.
One of my favorites was this one below. It is from an ancient river bed in Brazil and is embedded with thousands of tiny sea fossils. We were shown a few “concept rooms” while on the tour and one of the rooms was a home bar that was made entirely out of this stone. It was the most beautiful application. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos but imagine the counter top as well as the cabinets of the bar were all created out of this stone.
This stone had fossilized nautilus shells embedded into it. It was hard to even comprehend how rare and special this stone is.
The other thing that wowed our group is called bookmarking. This is a process where the stone is sliced from the block then “matched” to one another to create a mirrored or almost kaleidoscope effect. The slabs can be matched horizontally or vertically and in any number of pieces. The one below is matched horizontally. Doesn’t it look like a rug or a painting?
Here are a few members of our group standing in front of another bookmarked example. This is four slabs bookmarked together.
Can’t you just imaging this as the floor in an entrance?
I think this one below looks like a tribal rug but I can also imagine it as fabric. It has that “tie dye” look that is so on trend today. It also looks a little like some kind of stretched out fossilized animal.
The other stones that were amazing to see were the semi precious stones. This one below is Rose Quartz. They make jewelry out of this so can you imagine having a counter top, floor or a wall made from this? CRAZY!
and this is Blue Lapis with gold.
If that’s not impressive enough, the slab below is for the very high end client (most likely Middle Eastern we were told) who has the budget for this composite of sliced agates set into 18 Karat gold. This would most likely be used for a wall treatment or a bar top and then lit from behind. All I could think of when I saw this stone was that old Paul Simon song that goes, “she wears diamonds on the soles of her shoes”. It’s almost too much of a good thing but if you want to flaunt your wealth then this is the slab for you.
I know the photos don’t do the stones justice but I hope you get an idea of how much is out there besides carerra marble and the run of the mill granites we all see over and over….and over. If you live in New England you are very lucky because you can see many of these stones in “person”. Cumar Marble and Granite in Everett was one of the sponsors for our trip and they source many of their stones directly from Antolini. It is so worth a trip even if just for fun (or to take some amazing photos) to check it out. Be sure to ask for Dawn Carroll or Stephanie O’Brien who were also on the trip to give you a tour. They are both very knowledgeably and would love to show you around. I can’t wait to schedule a time myself.
Which stone is your favorite?