Marble has been valued for thousands of years for its rich palette of beautiful colors and is perfect pretty much anywhere in the house, especially for foyers, fireplaces and bathroom walls, floors and vanities. Marble is usually polished to a mirror-like shine and runs the color gamut from white and muted beiges to browns, rich reds and greens.
True marbles are formed from limestone or dolomite that has undergone enough heat and pressure to metamorphose into a crystalline structure. This metamorphosis takes place when temperatures in excess of 1800ºF are generated by the weight of overlying material, pressure from crustal collisions and heat from the earth’s core. True marbles are generally white or whitish, sometimes translucent, with some veining or color providead by other minerals present during the process of metamorphosis.
Breccias, or brecciated marbles, such as Breccia Oniciata or Breche Nouvelle, are stones which have been broken up by earth movement, landslides and cave-ins, and re-cemented with various dissolved minerals such as silicates, resulting in the characteristic “broken” appearance.
Most green marbles on the market are technically not marble, but serpentinites, or serpentines, as they are more commonly called. These include the “jades” from Taiwan, and the very hard Verde Antique from Vermont. Because they are chemically more closely related to basalt and other mantle rocks, they aren’t subject to etching and tend to be a bit harder than other stones generally classified as marble.
Marbles range in hardness from 4-5 on the ten-point MOHS scale (diamonds are 10; granites are ±7), making it perfect for most areas of the home. Care does need to be taken, however when choosing material for a high-traffic area or kitchen countertops which might be subject to etching substances. Like any stone, marble should be sealed with a penetrating sealer to prevent stains from penetrating into the stone.