Marble glasses are now a reality. Its rather unexpected use of marble follows the introduction in eyewear frames of titanium, wood, carbon, paper, denim and other materials such as onyx and semi-precious stones.

Budri, an Italian company specializing in marble objects and decoration, showcased the first collection of marble eyewear at the recent Silmo fair in Paris. Based near Modena, Budri is a market leader in decorative marble for luxury homes, temples and mosques, monuments, prestigious public buildings and so on. The company has patented a whole range of technologies with some very surprising results, the latest being frames for sun and prescription eyewear, the result of five years of research and development.

Marble is by definition heavy, and also fragile, especially when cut finely. However, the process patented by Budri has made it light and flexible. The stone is cut into strips tens of millimeters thick and weighing 33-36 grams. It won't break. It is anallergic and stain-proof thanks to a special treatment using nanotechnology. In terms of aesthetics, the focus is on the beauty of the natural veins and colors of the many qualities of marble that exist in the natural world.

The result is top-end, luxury eyewear retailing between €1,000 and €1,500 a pair. Each frame is unique, as each piece is finished by hand. The final product requires about five hours' work, compared with 15 minutes for the majority of frames.

Each frame is made out of a single piece of stone, selected in the quarry and analyzed with the aid of a next-generation scanner in the Budri workshop. The marble then undergoes a sophisticated milling/cutting process to produce a solid convex piece out of which the sheets are then cut and shaped. The recent acquisition of a highly sophisticated milling machine makes it possible to process marble into strips less than one centimeter thick. The next phase is the shaping of the front and the temples, which are assembled with an ad hoc carbon fiber core.

Budri's business plan calls for the production of 1,000 pairs of glasses a year, which will be distributed worldwide through a network of exclusive sales agents.

The first Budri Eyewear collection shown at Silmo features five models named after famous Italian sculptors and architects: Donatello, Bernini, Michelangelo, Canova and Palladio. It uses nine varieties of marble from the world's finest quarries, including Amazonite from Patagonia, Portoro from La Spezia in Italy and precious Lapis Lazuli from South Africa. There are five sunglass models and two styles of prescription frames.