Gemstone Terrazzo

Terrazzo’s origins are centuries old, dating back to early Greek and Roman floor mosaics which were constructed of marble chips arranged in lime and clay matrices. Modern day terrazzo was developed a millennium later, around Renaissance-era Venice, where construction workers would take marble offcuts, place them in clay patios or terraces, grind the surface with a hard stone or a long-handled tool called a galera, and then apply goat milk as a sealer. Although terrazzo is derived from the mosaic artform, decorative patterns are either unintentional or deconstructed.

Between the 1500s and the 1920s, the application of this craft remained more or less the same in practice until the electric grinder was invented in 1924. Accordingly, there was an increase in terrazzo installation in the 1920s due to this advance in technology which reduced the arduous labor that went into making terrazzo. It became a favored surface material for late Art Deco designers. By the 1960s, terrazzos that made use of epoxy resins instead of cementitious materials as binders began to emerge, marking the beginning of industrialized terrazzos, and allowing terrazzo to proliferate in institutional settings like hospitals, airports, banks, and government buildings. Like many things, mass production degraded terrazzo as a form of craft and maligned its appearance.

Gemstone terrazzo attempts to rectify terrazzo’s image as a cheap and often ugly building material and re-engage with the material’s past while moving beyond marble and granite as inclusions. It can be appreciated as a timeless building material that maintains a dialogue with antiquity and also as a contemporary phenomena that is only possible now due to the ability to source semi-precious stones from all over the world and mechanically hone a surface to a perfect luster.

Our formula for terrazzo is based on an extremely durable cement mixture with high tensile strength. Like poured concrete, it can be cast in to almost any shape. We use a custom combination of gemstones that are carefully selected for their beauty and ethically sourced from mines that do not use child labor. All lapidary work is performed in-house.

Interested in ordering a slab or commissioning a project using this material? Please reach out to us at hello@newagedesign.studio.