Granite is a natural stone that results from volcanic magma flowing, cooling, and sitting for millions of years. During this sedentary period, the magma combines with feldspar, mica, and quartz. After these minerals become completely enmeshed with each other, a hard crystal looking stone is created. Because of its chemical and mineral content, granite can come in a variety of beautiful colors. Brazil is one of leading sources of granite in the world. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency estimates that Granite from Brazil makes up 70-80% of the granite shipped around the world.
In the 18th century, many of Brazil’s neighboring countries were experiencing severe economic hardship. At the same time, miners in Brazil discovered gold and the word spread fast. Many people flocked to Brazil in hopes of finding their own little piece of the fortune. Among the many, were Italian immigrants who set up camp and began scouring the land. During their expeditions, they not only found gold, but discovered granite as well. Most of this centered around the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim in Southern Brazil.
The Granite Boom
After this famed discovery, and mass amounts of Granite from Brazil began to be extracted and shipped around the world, the United States began to appreciate the beauty of granite and it durability. American designers and homeowners quickly began to seek out granite as one of their top choice for kitchen and bath countertops. During this granite “boom”, Europe was spending time and money to discover and develop the technology that could speed up the removal and shipping of granite. After these new findings were fine-tuned, Brazil adopted the practices and solidified itself at one of the epicenters of granite production.
Common Uses of Granite
As its popularity continues to grow, homeowners are seeking out granite at monumental rates. This has prompted distributors to get their hands on a wide variety of choices for their customers. The color variations are endless and range from white to black with every color available in between. Because nature chooses the mineral composition, anything is possible.
In the U.S., granite is traditionally used for countertops. This is slowly beginning to change as American homeowners and designers are being influenced by Granite from Brazil. Brazil is quite creative when it comes to finding places to use granite. It is not uncommon to find granite showers and baths, floors, walkways, walls, and furniture in Brazilian homes.
In the early days of granite export in Brazil, miners cut a large stone out of a granite wall and shipped it off to whoever wanted it. They did not have the man power or the machinery to cut granite like it is today. This has become a very specialized craft and much more thought goes into the process.
Today once a slab of granite is extracted from the quarry, it is sent to factories where it goes through a preparation process before it is shipped. The Granite from Brazil is then polished by machines and is carefully looked over by factory workers to locate any fissures or cracks. If these fissures and cracks are large enough, they are filled with resin and a mesh backing is put on the slab to protect it during travel. Once this is complete, it is ready to be sent off.
A slab of granite can weigh anywhere from 700-1200 pounds. This makes shipping Granite from Brazil dangerous and difficult. Through trial and error over the past several decades, the process has been somewhat standardized. Most if not all granite companies use containerized shipping for transport on land and sea. This method offers the most protection to the granite as it travels around the world and is the most cost effective. One container can hold approximately 42 slabs of granite at one time.
Long Live Granite
The future of granite looks very bright. Because it is a natural stone, it will most likely never go out of style. And as other design trends for appliances, cabinets, walls, and furniture change, granite will continue to be the timeless side piece.
All of the world’s top designers are still pushing granite for countertops in the homes of the rich and famous down to the average homeowner. Since the chemical and mineral composition of the earth varies from place to place, there is always a new color and movement of granite being discovered. With that, no two stones are alike- so there is always something new. Interested in purchasing some granite for your next project? Get in touch with us today!