Fireplace Surround Material

The mantle and fireplace surround in a house my parents purchased need to be re-worked. The wood portion is fine, but the previous owner used a light green cultured marble inlay and hearth which needs to be replaced. The material is 3/4" thick and creates a 6" or so trim band around the outside of the fireplace opening, and the hearth extends 20" or out from the fireplace. None of the material is located inside the firebox. The brick/mortar fireplace has been converted to gas logs.
Anyway, I have noticed that the current cultured marble has bowed, either due to continued curing (after all, it is a polyester resin, isn't it?), or due to heat.
Which brings me to the real question... What is an appropriate material to replace this cultured marble? Will *real* marble work? What are the odds that new cultured marble would bow, assuming I could find some that was attractive?
Any other materials to consider?
Thanks in advance.
KB
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Does the green marble there now need to be replaced cause it's ugly, or what ? "Cultured marble is made of approximately 75% crushed and ground white quarried marble and 25% polyester resin."
I would go with some other (masonry) item. Here everyone seems to have tile of some sort. I've never done a hearth thing, I presume tile stuck on with glue is a no-go due to potential heat. Last house had tiles set in some sort of cement mixture.
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