Where does stone come from?

Over many millions of years a variety of processes within the earth’s core caused massive rock beds to develop and rise to form the earth’s crust.

There are three main types or classes of rock formation: Sedimentary, Metamorphic and Igneous rock.  The difference between them depends upon how they were formed.


As the name suggests, sedimentary rocks are formed from sediment – particles of sand, shells, pebbles, and other fragments of material.

Gradually, the sediment accumulates in layers and over a long period of time it hardens into rock.

Typically, sedimentary rock is fairly soft and may break apart or crumble easily.

You can often see sand, pebbles, or stones in the rock, and sometimes it may contain fossils.

Examples of this rock type include conglomerate, sandstone and limestone.

Sedimentary Stone - Mirror Image Marble


Metamorphic rocks are formed under the surface of the earth from the metamorphosis (change) that occurs due to intense heat and pressure.

The rocks that result from these processes often have ribbon-like layers and may have shiny crystals.

Examples of this rock type include gneiss, marble, serpentine, slate and onyx.

Metamorphic Stone - Mirror Image Marble


Igneous rocks are formed when magma (molten rock deep within the earth) cools and hardens.

Sometimes the magma cools inside the earth, and other times it erupts onto the surface from volcanoes (lava).

When lava cools very quickly, no crystals form and the rock looks shiny and glass-like.

Sometimes gas and minerals are trapped in the rock during the cooling process and eventually solidifying into stone that has large crystals and a coarse texture.

Examples of this rock type include granite, basalt and obsidian.

Igneous - Mirror Image Marble

The History of Stone as a Building Material

Around the world different cultures discovered that these rock beds could be fashioned into beautiful, functional and long lasting building materials. The Greeks used marble to create ornamental statues and build temples, Egyptians used limestone to build the pyramids, whilst the Romans used stone to build roads, domes and arches.

Michelangelo famously used marble in Italy to carve magnificent statues, such as his ‘David’ statue. And of course, stone has been used for thousands of years to build homes, buildings and monuments.

Natural stone has been quarried for centuries in many countries around the world. In Australia, by the late 1800’s sandstone was commonly quarried and used in large structures such as bridges and public buildings. It remained popular as a building material until the onset of World War II, which caused many quarries to stop operating and production declined. Then, around 40 years later, in the late 1980’s stone experienced a resurgence – not only as a structural building material, but also as a practical and attractive choice for interiors.

The popularity of natural stone has continued to grow in Australia over the past 30 or so years and the trend continues today.  Marble in particular is currently very popular with architects and interior designers wanting to capitalise on the beauty of natural stone creating magnificent effects both inside and outside.

In Australia we are spoilt for choice when it comes to natural stone, as there are many stone deposits and functioning quarries. The texture, colour and character of each type of stone will vary between quarries, depending on the minerals present in the area and the physical environment. These differences provide a great variety of choice when designing interiors.

The stone manufacturer purchases whole slabs of finished stone from the stone quarry direct or more commonly through a wholesaler. These slabs can be displayed so the end customer, installer or architect can view the stone and select it according to their needs. Once the stone is selected and an edge profile is decided, the manufacturer measures the installation area and the slab is prepared and installed.

* Images used are for illustrative purposes only and are not necessarily Mirror Image Marble customers.