Is it ethical to own marble today?

Is it ethical to own marble today?

Photo ©Luca Anasta

The global demand for marble has been growing steadily over the last decades with marble finding ever-new usage across industries, including home interiors, jewelry and timepieces. With the expanding interest for this natural resource, ethical sourcing and mining are becoming increasingly important.

Recognized as the world’s finest marble, Carrara marble has been mined for centuries from the Carrara quarries in the Apuan Alps in Italy, which gave the stone its name. Its unique appearance and superior quality have been sought after for more than 2,000 years. Legend goes that Roman emperor Augustus found Rome a city of bricks and transformed it during his tenure into a city of marble. Artists like Michelangelo spent oftentimes weeks in the quarries of Carrara, to select stones of perfect quality for their creation of masterpieces, including the world-famous David. The stone became so popular and prized that in 1564, the Cybo and Malaspina families, who ruled over the provinces where the quarries were located, created the ‘Office of Marble’ to regulate the mining industry. Long the most sought after classification of Carrara marble, ‘Statuario’ was a pure white type of marble without any coloring, which usually develop in most stones due to an intermixture of minerals in the natural conversion process of limestone into marble. The continuous demand for this finest of marbles has resulted in the ‘Statuario’ mining to end in the late 20th century, when it was no longer found anywhere in the region.

A lot has changed since Augustus and Michelangelo fell in love with the ‘white gold’. Where its sourcing used to be arduous, tough manual labor with oxen and chisels, the work has evolved to diamond-edged saws and tractors. Nowadays, marble is sourced from the quarries in giant slabs, resembling huge loafs of bread that measure ca. 3 cubic meters. Once mined, the stones are then sliced (just like the bread) and polished by nearby ateliers.

Over time, fueled by the global appetite for fine marble, quarries in China and Turkey have flooded the market with their marble. Nowadays, ca. 45% of the world’s marble supply originates from Turkey, with only 18% coming from Italy.

While marble from quarries across the world offers a wider range of choice for customers, this growing global industry is not without ethical drawbacks. Several quarries came under spotlight for poor working conditions and child slavery. One source that holds its value and ensures fair, sustainable sourcing and conditions for workers are Italy’s Carrara quarries. More than just the joy of immersing oneself with the visual appearance of the stone, a sourcing process that is sustainable for nature and ethical for its workers is just as crucial and adds to the spark of the stone.

At MYKU we are proud to work exclusively with trusted suppliers of Italian Carrara marble, ensuring that our timepieces feature only the best quality and most stunning, ethically sourced marble. Discover MYKU’s Carrara collection here.