Sourcing local materials has been something of a challenge in the past (last 10 years-ish).
You would think that because masonry has been around for such long time, that we would have a good grasp of going local. Not true.
Historically, Masonry usually had a local craftsman pull out good stone from a local pit or cliff, sand from the river, and in some cases slake his own lime.
It was amazing that we started to be able to ship products and types of stone along rail and ships. Supper quarries that we now see in china and India opened, and local stone became less popular along with the demand for colored bricks.
There was a time when bricks cost way more than stone. Now its not the case. With the generation of old stonemasons slowly retiring, this has left a gap of experience and work force.
The advent of cultured and engineered stone made installation simpler so that home owners and semi-professionals could make a visual representation of traditional building styles. These mock stones have been around for a while, some of you might remember angel stone( colored concrete pieces ), which most of us regret the pink and greeny fake stone on and around our house.
Nothing looks like stone, as much as real stone. ( but that might just be my bias ).
So why is sourcing local materials important?
Most of the time we shop according by price. Because of this, service like fast food, Walmart and some other highly competitive business practices have taken off. On aspect of some of the practices, is balancing transportation and acquisition costs of material and products to get the most competitive price.
This is also true when sourcing masonry materials. Supply, demand, operating costs, and transportation.
Sometimes there is an advantage to procuring building materials in locations where overhead is much lower and shipping it. One can see this from the various products coming from around the world.
These mega quarries can use scale and sometimes techniques that are banned in other locations for various reasons. To most people these products seem the same, and yes they would both be “stone.”
in some cases what you don’t see can impact the product. For example, stone that is blasted incorrectly can have mirco cracks that cannot be seen to the naked eye, but will develop as exposed to weather.
Stone, is also heavy. Shipping it uses’s allot of energy. Think about the distance it has to come from china. Fun fact: some of the earliest stone imported to this country was done by explorers in the hulls of the ships as balance to be replaced with other goods on the way home.
Whenever choosing a stone product, check with a mason, who can advise and give you some tips on selecting a high quality stone.