Marble, quartzite and onyx - works of art from the earth
They are beautiful, natural and unique - natural stones. Whether marble, onyx, quartzite, travertine, slate or granite - there is something to suit every taste and style. But how do the types of natural stone actually differ from one another and what makes them special? And how do these miracles of nature come about? The classification, history of origin, differences and characteristics of natural stones represent a true science in itself - the so-called petrology or “stone science”.
In this article we would like to take a closer look at the most common types of natural stone that we use in the MAGNA Atelier and take a closer look at the most important differences and properties. We would like to help you understand the uniqueness of each type of natural stone in more detail and perhaps be better able to decide on a particular type. Come with us on a short journey through time!
Wonders of time and nature - the creation of natural stones
In order to get to the origin of our current natural stones, we have to travel back a full 4.5 billion years in our contemporary history - researchers, more precisely geologists, were only able to find rocks that date back to the birth of our planet a few years ago. On the volcanic islands of Hawaii, Iceland and Samoa, rocks were found for the first time that contained ancient minerals that could be dated to around 4.5 billion years ago.
Because the volcanoes on these islands draw from particularly deep sources of magma that lie up to 2,900 km underground, these ancient minerals were able to be brought to the surface. This discovery from the lowest mantle of our planet doesn't just inspire researchers new findings brought and posed new questions, it also represents a contemporary witness to the formation of our planet. And this is exactly where the history of the formation of all other rocks begins, which we would like to devote ourselves to today.
Natural stones are fascinating materials. They come in an almost endless variety of shapes, colors, grains and textures. Their attractive appearance and historical origins make them particularly high-quality and desirable. The qualitative characteristics of the different types of natural stone also give them a high value as building materials - quality, beauty and durability have made natural stone a popular and sought-after material for thousands of years. They were already used by the ancient Egyptians and in antiquity as decor, building material or for furniture.
But how are natural stones created?
Natural stones are essentially rocks that are shaped by nature and time. Rocks are made up of a combination of different minerals that have been (and continue to be) solidified together through geological processes. Even in petrology, there is sometimes discourse and disagreement about the naming or classification of certain rocks and as a “normal citizen” you sometimes feel like you are back in school lessons – species, class, subgroup, or what was it? No fear. We would therefore like to explain the topic to you as clearly and simply as possible.
Natural stones are mainly divided into: three main types of rocks: igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks. Each of these species arises in different ways and has its own characteristic properties.
Metamorphic natural stones, such as b. Marble, Gneiss or slate, are created from existing rocks that are changed by heat and pressure. The original rocks can be igneous or sedimentary rocks. The decisive change can occur in the form of movement of continental plates or volcanic activity. When rocks are changed through such processes, it is called metamorphism. Metamorphism then creates new rocks such as gneiss, slate or marble.
Metamorphic rocks often have a characteristic grain and structure created by the changes during metamorphism. The grains in marble are e.g. B. is evidence of the metamorphosis that has taken place and is unique for each piece of rock. Metamorphic rocks are basically the oldest rocks on our planet. The oldest natural stone known to us is e.g. B. a gneiss that was found on the Acasta River in Canada.
Sedimentary rocks, why? Limestone and slate are counted, arise from deposits of sediments such as. B. sand, mud, clay or shells and skeletons of marine organisms. These sediments are removed and deposited by erosion, i.e. wind or water. Over time, the sediments are solidified by pressure from the overlying material and become sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, limestone or shale.
These deposits also cause the beautiful grains that are later visible in the natural stone. Sedimentary rocks are generally somewhat porous and lighter than igneous rocks.
Now you might be wondering “Wasn’t slate still a metamorphic rock?”. That’s right, that’s because “slate” is a collective term for different rocks. Whether a particular type of slate is a metamorphic rock or a sedimentary rock is determined by the method of X-ray diffraction.
Igneous natural stones, such as Granit or Basalt, arise from magma that rises from the Earth's mantle and solidifies in the Earth's crust. This process is called magmatism. Magma is a mixture of molten rock, gases and minerals that is formed in the Earth's mantle at high temperatures and pressures. When magma reaches the earth's surface, for example through volcanic eruptions, it is called lava.
When the magma or lava cools and solidifies, it forms igneous rocks such as granite, basalt or porphyry. Igneous rocks are usually hard and dense and have a coarse-grained structure.
Natural stone types – marble, quartzite or onyx?
Marble, quartzite and onyx fundamentally differ in their origins, their mineral composition, their appearance and their degree of hardness. Since all three natural stones have excellent quality characteristics, are durable and highly decorative, the decisive differences for most people ultimately lie in the appearance and the price.
Marble: properties and special features of the natural stone variety
We already know that marble is a metamorphic rock formed from limestone. It is therefore usually slightly harder than limestone and has higher compressive and bending strength. This makes it more resistant to scratches and wear. Because marble is also porous, it can potentially absorb stains if it hasn't been properly sealed for a while or if liquid isn't wiped away for several hours. Marble is generally more susceptible to acids. Still, marble is great for table tops if you maintains it and keeps it clean.
What makes marble special is its unique aesthetic, which has captivated many generations before us. The different minerals embedded in the rock create the characteristic grain and color, which in marble can range from white to black.
Our marble types
- Olympus White: a white marble from Greece with vibrant gray veins
- Cream Ivory: a beige-colored limestone from Spain with a subtle and calm grain
- White Carrara: a white marble from Italy with gray clouding
- Brown Emperor: Dark brown marble from Spain with moving grain and veins
- Nero Marquina: a black limestone from Spain with a subtle white grain
- Guatemala Green: a deep green metamorphite from India
Quartzite: properties and special features of the natural stone type
Quartzites are metamorphic rocks consisting primarily of quartz grains and formed by the metamorphism of sandstone. This rock is particularly hard, dense and very resilient.
Quartzite has exceptional resistance to weathering and a high load-bearing capacity. Quartzite is therefore a wonderful choice, especially in households with children and animals. As far as aesthetics are concerned, quartzites are particularly decorative and unusual. Quartzites are often a little more unusual and “lively” than, for example, B. certain types of marble. These special features are also reflected in the price, as quartzite is generally somewhat more expensive than, for example, B. Marble.
Our quartzite varieties
- Copacabana: a striking black and white quartzite from Brazil with striking patterns
- Venom: an intensely grained, gray-white quartzite from Brazil
Onyx: properties and special features of the natural stone type
Onyx is a rock consisting primarily of calcite or aragonite and is formed by deposition in calcareous waters. It is known for its distinctive bands and layers of various colors, formed by mineral deposits during its formation. Onyx is a beautiful decorative stone that has even been and continues to be used as a gemstone or material for works of art such as sculptures, vases and jewelry.
Onyx rocks are particularly exclusive natural stones that are not so commonly found. What makes onyx particularly unique is its translucency - the rock is translucent and can therefore be presented in a particularly spectacular way. Onyx is one of the high-priced and exclusive types of natural stone. In some cultures the onyx is also given one esoteric effect awarded. Currently you can only find tables with onyxes in our limited edition Exclusive Line, which gives these special gemstones the attention they deserve.
Our Onyx varieties
- Green Onyx: a green onyx with white and brown veins and an extravagant grain and translucent crystals
- White Onyx: a white onyx with white and beige veins and embedded translucent crystals
Furniture made of natural stone – handmade unique pieces from the MAGNA studio
As a traditional family business, the MAGNA Atelier produces unique tables and one-of-a-kind designs from historical natural stones. Long-lasting quality, aesthetics and sustainability are the cornerstones of our local production in Germany.
Marble furniture, tables made of onyx and quartzite or accessories made of limestone – we can make any item, no matter how unusual, for you.
Browse here through our unusual range of natural stone tables!