BUZAO’s Tinted Marble exhibition and collection
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Jade has long been valued in Chinese culture and continues to be seen all across China, used for practical and ornamental purposes. But is it actually jade, or just dyed marble? This is the question BUZAO explored in its Tinted Marble exhibition and collection, investigating the jewellery industry’s disingenuous practice of colouring marble to look like jade.
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals. For centuries it has been dyed to look like the semi-precious stone jade to offer a less expensive substitute or to improve the vibrancy of its colour, and unfortunately, are often sold as the original to less informed buyers.
Holding a light up to the practice of dying marble, BUZAO examined and experimented to produce something that, rather than pretend to be something else, is distinctly honest and celebrates the process of dyed marble. The team used a variety of colours to see which was absorbed best, and then used that colour (blue) on nine types of marble to test the colour stability. The best result was achieved with a stone that had a small grain and compact structure, so that it could fully absorb the pigment to display texture and strong colour.
As the exhibition displayed, the process involved drip infusing the dye into the marble so that it seeps out to the surface. BUZAO drip fed the dye continuously and quantitatively to demonstrate the rate of pigment absorption to exhibition guests. The finished products – electric-blue dyed marble in all shapes and sizes – were vacuum sealed in plastic and hung around the walls of the gallery.