The odyssey of stone

From the mountains of Italy, Brazil, and Spain to an Auckland stone factory, the journey of exquisite architectural stone is as awe-inspiring as the stone itself.

Standing at the top of a marble quarry in Carrara, Italy 12 years ago, on his first stone-buying trip, CDK Stone managing director, Colin Durling, was awestruck.

Carved into the mountain, layer by layer, like an inverted wedding cake, was the immense beauty of endless white Carrara marble, sparkling as far as the eye could see.

“It was jaw-dropping — I was standing at the top of the mountain looking down at these massive blocks of marble that had been cut from the mountain and loaded on a truck, which was precariously making its way down the incredibly windy road.”

It is one of many experiences Colin shares with clients at CDK’s warehouse in Auckland, to help them understand just how holistic the extraction of stone is. Clients requiring specific sizes often ask why slabs can’t be cut to size at the quarry, and the anecdote about the truck helps explain the parameters around extracting stone.

Having a profound understanding of stone products is crucial to the success of the business, which means Colin visits factories all over the world, personally selecting blocks from as far afield as Brazil, Italy, Spain, India, and China.

Viridian quartzite from CDK Stone used in a kitchen designed by Annika Rowson. Image: Gina Fabish.

It’s crucial to be on-site to check for fissures that could turn into cracks while the stone was being freighted, as well as to keep an eye out for the latest and most beautiful stone.

“We’re looking for what we know is in demand, and also trying to see what new colour variations are being extracted; as the material is quarried, the depth of colours and veining is constantly shifting,” Colin explains.

Attention to detail has been the maxim of the business since its inception in 2002, when Colin and his late father emigrated from Zimbabwe to New Zealand and began supplying diamond-tooling products to stonemasons. Intrigued by the possibilities within the natural stone industry, in 2008 they negotiated with esteemed stone supplier CDK Australia to create a New Zealand arm to that business.

Now, CDK NZ supplies a vast range of exceptional A-grade natural stone slabs, including marble, granite, quartzite, limestone, travertine, and dolomite.

Colin’s advice for choosing stone is clear: “Don’t be afraid to go bold; there’s a big world of stone out there and, if you go for a safe piece, you can get bored of it very quickly, but when you live with the beauty of something that’s more dramatic, you tend to love it more and more.”

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