Dedicated to semi-precious
April 1, 2010
In October of 2007, Amazing Stone was introduced to Stone World readers in the article “Making a name for semi-precious stone.” Nearly two years later, through worldwide trying economic times, the company has maintained a steadfast dedication to the product which it introduced to the marketplace 10 years ago, and it continues to manufacture one of the industry’s most sought-after slab materials.
The company, strategically based on the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius, is near the wealth of semi-precious stones and minerals that make up the Amazing Stone Collection, which includes over 60 stone types, styles and designs. Recently hailed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the leading country example of steady economic growth in the region, Mauritius has proved a perfect home for the Amazing Stone headquarters and its American co-founders, Michael and Jamie Mehditash.
As a manufacturer of a unique, fairly new product, Amazing Stone has endured the same worries and concerns associated with both stone industry companies and the luxury goods market. Being physically so far away from the U.S. and in a country that is, on the contrary, enjoying an economical boom especially in terms of building, the company found itself at a crossroads.
“Going from Lamborghini to Mercedes”
One of the key focuses of the company early in 2008 was to bring The Semi-Precious Collection from a category of “Lamborghini” to “Mercedes” - from untouchable to attainable. The company had the capacity to increase production, with an abundant supply of high-quality raw minerals mine direct and a streamlined manufacturing process, which it had spent years to fine tune. With the entering of competitors in the marketplace, it was important for Amazing Stone to sell its Semi-Precious Collection of slabs on the market at the most competitive price. “The product line had been established as very elite, but with increased production capabilities, we knew that the more slabs we manufactured, the less our cost per slab would be - a savings that could drastically affect the chain of distribution, which would create more demand,” said Jamie Mehditash.
During that same year, the decision to reduce the end price of the Semi-Precious Collection, which created a greater demand, also created a greater need for a solid chain of distribution. This became one of the most important issues in the life of the company. “To send less than containers of slabs from Mauritius would no doubt counteract all of the efforts of price reduction,” said Jamie Mehditash. “We needed a solid distribution channel at a time when companies were hesitating on growth. The U.S. market was our biggest concern because it was the largest market and the furthest logistically. We had designers and architects working with the Semi-Precious Collection and wanting product, and so we found ourselves shipping off various cut-to-size projects - many by air to keep up the supply. What we required was a good distribution channel of established stone suppliers with a client base for high-end stone.”
Today, the Authentic Semi-Precision Collection is available in the U.S. at Cactus Stone in Arizona (www.cactusstone.com) and through Cosentino worldwide under the brand name Preruxy Collection (www.preruxy.com).
Semi-Precious vs. Precious
Education and marketing of the Semi-Precious Collection tend to be one in the same. “To sell semi-precious stone slabs, you need to be informed because that’s exactly what the buyer wants - information,” said Jamie Mehditash. “It’s beautiful, but how do you use it? Where does it come from? How do you cut it? Having developed this product, we have inevitably become the main source point for semi-precious stone slabs. One of the recurring questions that we do come across is, ‘What is the difference between precious stone and semi-precious stone?’ For Amazing Stone, it’s a simple matter of old fashioned definition. Precious stone is defined as any of several gems - including the diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire - that have high economic value because of their rarity or appearance. Our Semi-Precious Collection is certainly comprised of beautiful stones and unique minerals, but we cannot claim them as being in the same category as diamonds and rubies. We do continue to source new stones with industry suppliers continuously sending samples, maintaining the most vast and unique collection of solid semi-precious stone slabs on the market.
Amazing Stone first introduced Authentic Semi Precious in 2007, with a logo introduction that same year. With the advent of reproductions of semi-precious stone slabs by other producers, the concept of Authentic Semi Precious was for identification and quality workmanship purposes. Since 2008, all Amazing Stone Semi-Precious Stone Slabs have featured this logo - with the semi-precious stone slabs being labeled and numbered for reference and identification. In that same year, the company developed a “Fabricator Confidence Program” that allows people who work with the Amazing Stone Semi-Precious stone slabs a guarantee of slab replacement should the slab be damaged during fabrication and/or installation. “It was very important to our company to develop a way to say we absolutely stand behind our product,” said Jamie Mehditash. The confidence program and guarantee outline are available on the Amazing Stone Web site (www.amazing-stone.com) and available through both Cactus Stone and Cosentino directly.
Amazing Stone has not been content to just claim pioneering rights on the idea of semi-precious stone slabs. “There are other manufacturers out there. Competition is good, as it keeps you questioning your product to make sure it’s the best you can offer,” said Michael Mehditash. With that, the company has taken strides to increase its polishing technique and has added both a UV and antibacterial component to its special epoxy binder. “The first thing most people do when they see our slabs is to reach out their hand and touch the surface. This past year, we have worked diligently on our polishing process,” said Michael Mehditash. “We are very proud of the smooth touch and glass finish that we have achieved. The UV addition is necessary for our quartz stone types. This includes our Classic Quartz, Rose Quartz, Hematoid Quartz and many more - which over time and with extreme sun exposure - can yellow or ‘tan.’ “
The UV protection acts as much like a sunscreen and eliminates that issue, although the company still recommends that translucent stone types be applied in lower-sun areas. The antibacterial addition, available in all slab production as of this year, is an ingredient that company founders Michael and Jamie Mehditash were happy to include. “Having three children of our own, we are very keen on anything that protects the family,” said Michael and Jamie Mehditash. Look for the new Amazing Stone Bacteria Shield logo or visit the technical page section of the Amazing Stone Web site for more information on UV and antibacterial semi-precious stone slabs.
Lava by Amazing Stone is the company’s newest creation (see “Introducing Lava by Amazing Stone”). An exotic, original Amazing Stone concept, the company seeks out varied and striking pieces of volcanic rock that are part of the creation of the island of Mauritius. Through an expert process of production, they are able to create rich, deeply intense Lava stone slabs. “Volcanic rock in its raw state is a beautiful building material used throughout the world,” said Jamie Mehditash. “Due to Amazing Stone’s manufacturing process and technique, Lava slabs by Amazing Stone can now be used in every type of application both interior and exterior.”
Lava by Amazing Stone is available in standard slab form, including the AS Bacterial Shield. They are completely non porous and finished to a glass, mirrored polish - as with their semi-precious stone slabs. Having begun development of this new product line last year, the company is looking forward to the debut of Lava in black at the trade shows of 2010. Pricing of Lava by Amazing Stone is considerably less than its semi-precious stone slabs, and it will be introduced over the next year in an assortment of natural volcanic rock colors and color combinations.
Sidebar: Introducing Lava by Amazing StoneWhat is Lava by Amazing Stone?
Lava by Amazing Stone is a completely new category of stone offering. As the pioneering producer of solid semi-precious stone slabs, Amazing Stone has introduced this year a category of natural stone products made from lava rock or basalt that has been manufactured into slabs using the same expert method which the company applies to the manufacturing of its semi-precious stone slabs. The result is a smooth surface of natural volcanic rock, polished to mirror perfection and applicable in both interior and exterior design applications where marble and/or granite is used.
Where does the lava rock or basalt used in your slabs come from?
Lava by Amazing Stone is made up of pieces of basalt from the volcanic eruption that made up the island of Mauritius. Traditionally used throughout the island both for general brick laying and as decorative cladding, it is considered a practical and industrious building material for all types of projects from luxury hotels, spas commercial and residential developments.
What prompted you to develop this product?
With the Amazing Stone manufacturing headquarters located on the island of Mauritius, the question by most visitors to our facility is, “Do any of your semi-precious stones come from Mauritius?” Being a rather new volcanic island, there are no semi-precious stones natural to the island. Over the course of time and with the natural setting of lava, we began to toy with the idea of producing lava stone slabs. It became especially interesting with an onset of queries about sealing lava stone for exterior cladding in colder climates. Typically, the local builders use lava for exterior and interior walls, as the lava can be drenched by torrential rains yet dry quickly in the tropical weather without molding or mildew. This advantage for the tropics, however, was a huge disadvantage for colder climates. The production of non-porous natural lava stone slabs, with a usage extended to countertops and surfacing, was soon underway.
What other types of Lava or Basalt slab surfaces are known already on the market?
Besides the natural use of volcanic rock as brick/stone laying, lava is available as enameled lava countertops and tiles. There are lava granites available, of course, but Lava by Amazing Stone is the first product of its kind.
What colors and sizes are available?
Lava by Amazing Stone is being introduced in Lava Black. This year will see the introduction of a variety of natural colors of Mauritian volcanic Lava to include grays, browns, yellows and orange. Slab sizes will be the same as our standard semi-precious stone slabs - 2.77 x 1.47 m x 3 cm, with the availability also of cut-to-size products.
How do you work with the slabs?
Guidelines to follow for working with Lava by Amazing Stone slabs are the same as with working with Amazing Stone’s semi-precious stone slabs. We offer a complete guideline on our Web site at www.amazing-stone.com under the technical pages. This guideline can be downloaded and printed, or you can send for a copy of the guidelines at marketing@amazing-stone.
Do you categorize your Lava stone slabs as semi-precious?
No. Lava by Amazing Stone is an entirely new category of stone offering. Pricing will reflect stone value as well as manufacturing process of stone cutting, hand assembly and all other production processes that we use for our semi-precious stone production, with cost substantially lower than the Authentic Semi-Precious Stone Collection. Marketing of Lava by Amazing Stone will also be somewhat different to the traditional methods of marketing our Semi-Precious Collection.
Is Lava UV sensitive? Can the stone be stored or installed in direct sunlight and/or outside?
The lava stone itself is not UV sensitive and we use the same resin as with our semi-precious stone slabs, which now includes UV protection and an antibacterial component which we have introduced this year, Amazing Stone Bacteria Guard. Both interior and exterior applications are permitted.