The word granite comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the large crystal-grains visible in this rock. Granite is an igneous rock that is composed of four basic minerals. These minerals are quartz, feldspar, mica, and usually hornblende. Granite forms as magma slowly cools far below the surface of the urn. The slow cooling of the stone allows the crystals-grains of the four minerals to grow large enough to be easily seen by the naked eye. Granite is an excellent material because it can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure, and it is, for the most part, easily accessible compared to other types of stone. It is also an ideal material for headstones and monuments because it weathers slowly, again, compared to other stones such as marble or limestone, both of which were popular for memorial use prior to the use of granite. Also, engravings of name and date information and/or heastone epitaphs made in granite can be read for hundreds of years after they are engraved, adding to the value of this type of stone. Granite headstones are also popular because the granite can be obtained in a wide variety of colors and crystalline textures to suit individual tastes. While granite is available in a multitude of colors, some colors are more common than others, and are generally a great deal less inexpensive compared to colors that are more rare.
The process of manufacturing a granite headstone can be broken down into three main steps:
The first step to quarry the granite, in which the granite is collected from the earth in batches, and prepared to be used. A granite quarry is a pit or open excavation site from which granite is obtained, as again, granite is an igneous stone that forms underground. Either digging, cutting, blasting, or wire-sawing is used to obtain granite from a quarry, and this process is generally referred to as “quarrying”.
Once the granite is quarried and cut to the specified dimensions for a certain memorial, say a flush headstone, it is ready to be sanded down and polished. The polished surface of the memorial not only creates a visually pleasing affect, but also makes personalization easier to see and offers a tribute that is easier to maintain. Dalbeattie, Scotland has the distinction of being the first place in the world where granite was commercially polished. The first polished memorial was completed in 1841, and the Great Exhibition of 1851 had a piece of polished and incised granite on display, starting a fashion that lead to a boom in granite polishing. Today, almost any granite headstone can be supplied in four finishes:
The most common finish is the all-polished finish. An all polished memorial offers a touch of elegance to a highly natural tribute. Next, a stencil of the desired lettering is created either by hand or by computer stencil-cutting machines. It is then adhered to the granite headstone for the desired placement.
The final step in creating a granite headstone is the carving process. The carving of the granite headstone is achieved by sandblasting for most engrave methods. Sandblasting can occur naturally, usually as a result of the particle blown by the wind causing eolian erosion, or artificially, using compressed air in a controlled environment.” In creating granite headstones from Memorials.com, the solid particle used is sand. Historically, gold leaf was used on granite lettering. Today, lettering on granite headstones is generally painted in with black litho on lighter stones and white on darker stones. For more information on the manufacturing process invoved with creating these elegant tributes, our Headstone Manufacturing Process article can be very helpful.
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