In the natural Stone industry several countries are associated in the minds of people with one specific stone even though that country may have different varieties of stones. When one talks of Portugal, a country with a large variety of granites and marbles, the first name that comes to mind is ROSA PORTUGUESE.
The pink marble is one of the most important in the Portuguese stone industry. Since many years it has been one of the Portuguese stones that is most exported and most known in all the markets, big and small, all over the world. However, in spite of its status which it enjoys as a commercial name, not much is known of this limestone, apart from the very generalized statement that goes by “it is not very uniform”, that accompanies any comment on this and many other stones.
It is difficult to show a definite image of ROSA PORTUGUESE due to the irregularities of colours and shades of the material. There is no such thing as a “typical” sample of this stone. If one asks any processing company to send a sample or a typical photo, generally speaking the reply will be it does not exist. Those people that work with this material insist that, almost by definition, each sample of a tile is distinct from another, but when flooring is done, one tries to do maximum selection so that the final result is spectacular.
One more example of how natural stone is a UNIQUE product.
In geological and geographical terms, it is probably enough to refer to ROSA PORTUGUESE as a limestone approximately 400 million years old, which is extracted in an area of about 11 k in the area of Alentejo, which consists of a triangle formed by the localities of Vila Viçosa, Estremoz and Borba. Only in this area can the crystalline Portuguese marble can be found.
This area of Alentejo is very important for the Portuguese stone industry. In Estremoz one finds quarries of white and beige, in Borba they are of pink colour in the versions light, medium and dark, and in Vila Viçosa there is a variety of all of them. Apart from these colours there are also quarries of black, grey and bluish marble. Some companies of the area sell blocks to others for processing, while there are also companies which have their own processing plants. The number of quarries, towards the end of 2015, that were still active, were around 50 to 60; ten years ago there were more than 200 active quarries.
Varieties of Rosa Portuguese
It is not the different names which reflect the large varieties of these limestones. The real difference among different types can be explained in the following manner:
Does it have veins or not?
Are there few or a lot of veins?
In which colour are the veins?
The varieties are established with the following criteria:
1. Clean: Without veins, pink background. This is the variety that is least available, it does not amount to 20% of the stone mined.
2. With Some veins: The background is pink but with veins which can be of brown, green or bluish black colours. This is the variety that most comes out of the quarries, around 40% of total.
3. With veins: With more veins of the same colours. This variety is around 40 % of the total.
Different names of the materials
With regard to the names which are given to this material there are a large number of them to describe each variety, a logical consequence of the large differences in shades that exist. For example, these are some of the names that have been given to the different materials: Estremos Clear and Pink, Rosa Borba, Rosa Aurora, Rosa Portugal, Rosa Venado, Rosa Lagoa, Rosa Salmao, Rosa Crema Vigária, Rosa Monte, Rosa Pardais, Calacata Rosa, Rosa El-Rei, etc., depending on the quarries, the company marketing it, and the colours of the material.
With respect to finishes there are a large number of them: polished, aged, bush hammered, sanded, honed and acid. The flamed finish is hardly ever used.
The exports and sales are done both of blocks as well as slabs, and also in tiles with the following formats- 80 x 40 x 2 cm, 60 x 40 x 2 cm, 40 x 40 x 2 cm, 60 x 30 x 2 cm, 60 x 60 x 2 cm, 30 x 30 x 2 cm.
The biggest market for Rosa Portuguese is Saudi Arabia. Demand is now increasing in countries such as South East Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. In Europe, the countries that most import these materials are Spain and Italy.
Main uses and applications
Rosa Postuguese is used both for interior and exterior architecture decoration and in sculpture. It has been used in a large number of important projects, such as Palace of Vila Vicosa in Portugal, in the Palaces of the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia, in several buildings in the Persian Gulf countries, etc.
NOTE: Our thanks to Mr. Rui Godinho for his help in the elaboration of this article.