6 July, 2018

The Bretonstone® story is one of a dream come true, an integral part of Breton SpA - 50 years of technological innovation; a global leader in the field, proud of the “Italian” heritage. We have never believed in delocalization, and made the creativity and professional qualities found here in Italy the cornerstones of our company.

But above all, this is the story of the man who established the company, Sir Marcello Toncelli, and of all those who believed in what he was doing, and helped him make the Bretonstone® dream come true.
Brevetti Toncelli was established in 1963 at Castello di Godego in the province of Treviso, and this first firm changed its name to Bre-Ton and finally Breton; focused in the production of machinery for working natural stone, the company soon began developing technologies and plants for the production of what was once commonly called “agglomerate” as it is made of stone fragments bonded together by resins, now known as Engineered Stone

Today Breton is run by Mr. Toncelli's heirs Luca and Dario, and has made its name all over the world as a company that has made research its motto, employing approximately 600 people in the four Veneto production plants and in the foreign-based companies, with an estimated annual turnover for 2013 of over 150 Million EURO.
All the company's closest collaborators say the founding father Marcello Toncelli was always one step ahead of the rest, sometimes even so far ahead he might at times seem rash, but he had a dream, and the insight, the passion and doggedness to make that dream come true! He knew the future lay in an industrial stone product that could be mass produced in as many square meters as were required, in the same color, with the same structure, and all…at the press of a button!

Originally Bretonstone® was made of blocks of polyester resin and fragments of marble, materials which were poured by hand into the ( 30 x 50 cm) formworks, to be first compacted and then cut into tiles; later bigger blocks (300 x 125 cm) were used, and the resulting slabs had a “Palladiana” (crazy paving) type finish.
This was the early 70's; and the innovative idea was to give the material a different kind of look, similar to granite, using small rather than large aggregates, with the possibility of producing slabs instead of blocks that needed cutting.
And so the idea and the “Great” Bretonstone® dream was born, and we were taking bets we'd make that dream come true! We developed many new technologies and inventions, all of which protected by patents.
There were problems at first that took a long time to resolve, some of which are fondly remembered in time, like when Marcello Toncelli came up with the memorable “hot water bottle” solution: the first products were subject to porosity, as air bubbles got trapped in the resin; Toncelli came up with the idea of putting the mix in a vacuum, and the only thing he could think of at the time to do this was a hot water bottle: he poured in the mix, screwed tight the plug, beat the bottle with a hammer on a bit of wood to make the mix more compact and put the lot in the oven to cure; when the rubber was peeled back, the first Bretonstone® tile was born! 
Thanks to the vacuum the product was now free of porosity and the particle size effect of the aggregates was emphasized: success at last!
Now all we had to do was come up with a way to use this “hot water bottle” idea on a larger scale and in mass production.
Large slabs were difficult to produce, and had a tendency to curve when curing: it took years to find the technical solutions required to make the product perfect, and the development of our vibro-compression vacuum technology to use mixes with a minimum polyester resin content was a big breakthrough.
Finally, after years of experimentation and research, the first Bretonstone ® plant for the production of 125 x 125 cm slabs was ready to go into production, and this first plant was sold in 1979 to Caremac based in Tunisia; another of these plants was soon sold to a company in Venezuela, to be followed by another for Stone Italiana of Verona; and others in Singapore, followed by Hidaque in Spain, Santa Margherita in Italy, and Armstrong Flooring in the US.
As with all new products, it took time for Bretonstone® to make its name; for the market to realise its potential, with many showroom installations. Architects didn't know how the resin would behave in time, when exposed to the sun and atmospheric agents. They feared it could be scratched and scuffed; at first there was a great deal of scepticism, but here at Breton we believed in our product.

The first Bretonstone® was characterised by a property that was considered a limit by the market: despite the fact it looked like granite, the mix of polyester resin and marble aggregates was physically more similar to marble: not as hard as granite.
To obtain the same hardness as granite, we had to use siliceous stone or quartz in the mix, but this was harder to work. 
In the late 1970's Breton invented a machine for polishing hard natural stone in a production line; stone polishing machines with heads fitted with oscillating sectors, the ground-breaking Levibreton KG was an instant success all over the world in the early 1980's.
This lead to the idea of producing Bretonstone® with hard aggregates such as silica sand, quartz, granite: in 1982 we supplied Saro of Trento with a plant for the production of 125 x 125 cm Bretonstone slabs made of granular porphyry, and in 1984 a similar plant was supplied to the UK-based company Marble Work owned by Mr. Juma for the production of slabs made of silica sand, polished with heads fitted with oscillating sectors.


Bretonstone® was now just as beautiful as granite, but offered much better performance: more resistant and non-absorbent; soon, all Bretonstone® manufacturers switched to silica sand and/or quartz mixes.
It was the natural evolution of things: in 1987 the Israeli company Caesar Stone bought the first Bretonstone® plant using new technology for the production of large (125x308 cm) slabs; at first the plant was designed to use granulated marble, but it was immediately converted to produce slabs made of silica sand and then ground quartz, in consideration of the fantastic results obtained in the UK plant.

It was a great success for the company; now quoted on the New York NASDAQ stock market, and the owner of 4 plants, soon to become 6. 
Also in Spain, Cosentino, who had bought a plant to use waste from their Macael white marble quarry in 1989, later switched production to quartz with Silestone, and this resulted in exponential growth, also thanks to the successful and effective marketing policy developed in the North American market: a first plant was soon followed by a second, a third, the forth, and the company now owns 11 and is the greatest producer of Bretonstone® quartz in the world.

The size of our slabs has evolved in time, with the width increasing from 125 to 144 and then 166 cm; today Breton can offer its customers plants based on truly innovative technology to produce “Bretonstone® Jumbo” (212 x 367 cm) slabs of an absolutely amazing aesthetic quality, a delight to behold with an infinite number of possible configurations!

The look has also evolved over the years: first granite-looking, then one-color, to be followed by veined marble and today also our “exotic granite” effect, similar to certain rare and costly Brazilian granites, such as the stone produced by Cambria in Minnesota and others.

Each manufacturer has added their own personal touch to the aesthetic quality of the product, with exquisite colored glass inserts, crystal, mirrors, semi-precious stones, or brass filings to “speckle the stone with gold”, transforming Bretonstone® into a product of prestige; it was already a product of quality - now more beautiful than ever.!

Bretonstone® is a totally eco-friendly product, both in terms of the production process and the finished product; today even more so, as we use Biolenica® resins made using vegetable oils obtained from renewable sources.

Bretonstone® is one big family; every company producing Bretonstone® has helped make the name something special, to leave its mark on the market as a real original: Stone Italiana, Santa Margherita, Caesarstone, Technistone, Cosentino, Cambria, Seieffe, Quarella, Privilege, Silicalia, Hanwha, AKG, Dupont, Vicostone, Diresco, Falat, ZKM, Pokarna, Quartzforms, LG, Belenco, Daelim.
To fully understand the extent of the phenomenon, here are a few figures: the Bretonstone® sector was invented in Veneto and developed over the years. Today there are approximately 60 plants operating around the world, directly employing over 6,000 people and producing over 20,000,000 m2 of slabs a year.
What really stands out though, is the exponential number of jobs Breton has created and continues to create all over the world: when Breton supplies a plant, this means developing a new industrial production factory, then there are resellers, operators who transform the slabs, and last but not least the distributor/final user (a company producing kitchens for example), not to mention sellers; it’s estimated that Bretonstone® has created work for tens of thousands of people all over the world.

Everyone has most likely admired and appreciated Bretonstone® works, without perhaps even knowing what exactly the material is (often simply called “Quartz”). 
Today, a designer who wishes to create something special, innovative and of the highest quality, will choose this fine material, with the added bonus of it being in line with tradition: Bretonstone® - the bridge between past and future!

Bretonstone® has been used in many airports (Dubai, London Heathrow, Amsterdam), shops (Giorgio Armani in New York, Prada in Dubai, Fendi, Ferrè, Diesel, Swatch, Montblanc), shopping centres (Gallerie Lafayette, Sunset Mall Dubai), hotels (like the Buji Al Arab in Dubai), schools, hospitals, residential complexes, churches, mosques; from Paris to the US, the Arabian states to China, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, Senegal, Brazil and Australia, .
There's a little Italy everywhere in the world, and a little of the person who invented, believed in, created and distributed this innovative Italian material that lets architects make dreams come true: Sir Marcello Toncelli. 


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