Morà Busoli won this year's Silmo d'Or in the “Optical Frames: Eyewear Designer” category for its new Venti frames, made of marble and carbon. The Italian company had first shown its line at the Mido show in Milan last year, a few months before another Italian company in the same area near Modena, Budri, came out with a line of marble eyewear. Budri claims it developed the first prototypes earlier, in 2014, but it is no longer targeting opticians because of the high mark-up involved.

Morà is an acronym for “Marmo Ossimorico Resistente Alleggerito,” or lightweight durable oxymoronic marble. The oxymoron here is that the material in question, marble, is both durable and lightweight, yet thin marble is normally both fragile and heavy. Busoli is the name of the family that co-owns BBG, a company specialized in applied precision engineering in various fields. Paola Busoli was previously working for Budri on its eyewear project but left the company at the end of 2016 to pursue her project with her family.

BBG uses a slightly different process than Budri. It makes use of sophisticated machines to cut a slab of marble into thin sheets that are subsequently glued to a carbon base in order to give strength and durability to the frame. After 193 motions, the marble is reduced to sheets with a thickness of between 0.8 and 2 millimeters to give them a weight comparable to that of an acetate frame.

Budri continues to use only marble in its eyewear line, which is about 20 percent more expensive than BBG's line. Some items are decorated with precious stones. The company claims that its all-marble pieces are just as solid as BBG's, as they undergo stress tests regularly.

Budri, which is a marble specialist, sold nearly 200 pieces last year, mostly through its own stores in Milan and Verona, through jewelers, at five-star hotels and directly to rich people who order Budri marble for interior decoration.

BBG's eyewear production now accounts for 5 percent of the group's turnover. Since 2016, 300 to 500 marble prescription frames have been sold at a retail price of €2,000 to €3,000 apiece. The price is justified by the uniqueness of each piece, since cut marble always reveals a different grain. Venti frames are sold by opticians in Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, the U.K., Canada and Singapore.

Budri is working on a new collection for next year that will be presented at a new showroom in Milan during the Design Week in April. It is still using the same designer for its eyewear line, Valerio Cometti.