Monday, November 5, 2012

A Little About Cork Red Marble

Irish Jewelry. Cork Red Marble Pendant. Red Heart.  Love & Truth 
Ireland boasts a fair share of rare marbles. Cork red marble is a little less known in the jewellery world than the famous Connemara marble. This gorgeous, fiery stone is more often found in public buildings, and sometimes rosary beads, than in personal accessories. I am very proud to include this indigenous stone in my craft whenever I can get my hands on some beads. 

Munster, Ireland
Cork red marble is mined in the South West of Ireland, in the region of Munster. Here's the science bit...It is a resedimented limestone, containing mollusks and other sea fossils suspended in red clay. It is thought these components were lifted from the ocean in turbulent storms and deposited on the land thousands of years ago.  Heat and pressure from rock and other deposits building up over centuries and centuries resulted in the formation of this hard marble known as Cork red.

The colour ranges in shade from a pale, pinkish coral tones to a deeper, or browner, brick red. The marbling is usually a pale, rose white-wash. Check out these images from the British Geological Survey. 

The paler varieties are often referred to as Rose Marble. The darker reds are not unlike red jasper in appearance but have distinctive marbling or patches. Historically, the stone was known as 'Rouge Royale.'

Famously it can be seen in the Chapel of St Patrick and the Saints of Ireland at Westminster Cathedral, London, alongside other Irish stones. (photo credit: Westminster Cathedral website)
Here in Dublin, the interior columns of John's Lane Church, Thomas St. are formed of Cork red marble.

If you are lucky owner of a piece of jewellery made of this rare stone, be careful how you treat it. It is a hard stone so shouldn't shatter as easily as some gemstones, but it wont take kindly to acids and chemical cleaners. Avoid ultra sonic cleaners too.

The kindest way to keep your Cork red marble and precious metal pieces looking well is to regularly use a silver polishing cloth on the metal and to store the piece wrapped in such a cloth or in an anti-tarnish box or baggie. Wipe any grime and residual perfumes cosmetics etc off the stone with a dry, lint free cloth or kitchen paper. An occasional wash in mild soapy water will keep silver or gold bright without damaging the marble. Pat the piece dry with kitchen paper and leave on a towel for a couple of hours at room temperature. Polish the metal parts with an appropriate cloth before storing.

Click for Rare Irish marble jewellery for sale on Etsy  

Click to see more posts about materials I use



  1. I found always quite interesting your posts about materials!

  2. Most interesting..I have not come across this marble is beautiful, thank you for your article.

  3. Ah, I live in cork and you see it on a lot of buildings around here - I didn't realise you could use it in jewelry though! It's lovely!

    1. yes it's hard to find stones for jewellery in Cork red marble. Round beads are a little easier than pendant stones as they have traditionally been used in rosaries.

  4. I like so much red marble I like red stones (Jaspe and Coral ..)
    Being Coral protected and being Red marble local..let's use a nice Red from Cork.:-))
    Thanks for sharing AM..interesting , as usual.