Natural stones are considered a luxurious option when it comes to the decoration of buildings. The earthy look, natural beauty and environmental friendliness make natural stones the perfect material that can be used for adorning both indoor and outdoor spaces. Out of all the natural stones, marble is at the top of the game. It is the most famous natural stone that has been used extensively by architects, sculptors and designers throughout the history of human civilization. This stone is renowned for its glimmering appearance and its ability to make any space look ten times more aesthetically pleasing. As marble is considered the king of luxury, it also comes with a high price tag.
Marble is found in quarries from where it is transported to factories in order to create products such as tiles, pavers, slabs and mosaics. Marble has a huge variety of lovely hues and tones with different veining patterns and intensities. Marble products available in markets are found in different finishes out of which polished is the most preferred one as it enhances the refractive property of marble.
Marble is an exquisite natural stone that is formed through a metamorphosis under Earth’s high pressure. Many underlying chemicals, cavities and impurities give these marble an elegant look and colour while the metamorphosis of stones gives them a strength that can sustain for decades. Countless quarries across the world produce marble.
Some of the world’s top monuments have been carved from different types of marble, and this is the reason why marble is in huge demand across nations. In 2017, the global marble market was estimated to be around $2 billion dollars. 50% of this earning comes from a single market: Turkey.
To understand the demand and supply of marbles, let’s have a look at the top countries that are known to produce and export some of the best marbles in the world.
While marble is quarried in many countries around the world including Greece, USA, India, Spain, Romania, China, Sweden and even Germany, there is one country which is generally considered the home of the most high-grade and luxurious marble available – Italy. It’s certainly the country of origin of the most famous marble but what is it that makes Italian marble so highly-sought after?
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Below are several reasons behind the popularity of this beautiful natural stone:
- History: Italian marble is steeped in heritage. It was used by esteemed Renaissance artists including Michelangelo and Donatello. They used marble-like calacatta and statuario to create some of the worlds most iconic works of art, including the statue of David. Italian marble has been proven to stand the test of time and has stood strong for centuries on many buildings around the world, used both internally and externally.
- Heritage: Another reason Italian marble is considered superior is due to the stone working heritage of the Italian people. They were pioneers in perfecting quarrying methods in ancient times, many of which are still used to this day. The Italian people are considered as purveyors of quality in many fields including fashion, cars and natural stone like marble! They set high standards for quality control and are considered technical experts when it comes to cutting and carving natural stone.
- Stone Quality: Italian marble is practically peerless in the natural stone world when it comes to its durability, purity and beauty. It’s synonymous with luxury, elegance and sophistication and is seen as a symbol of status in residential and commercial buildings around the world.
Types of Marble
Marble has a huge list of types as the appearance of this stone varies from location to location and changes based on impurities, elements and general environment. Marble has many different types depending on its colour and veining intensity. The price of marble types also varies drastically from one another, depending on these factors. The vast amount of variety available in marble can make any homeowner dizzy, which is why it is recommended to always do your homework before going for marble shopping.
Here we have listed the most famous marble types which are favourites of homeowners around the globe:
Calacatta marble is considered as the most luxurious marble type due to its rarity. Calacatta stone is very often mistaken for Carrara marble due to the striking similarities in colour and veining. However, some distinct differences set the two marbles apart; for instance, Calacatta marble has dark thick veining patterns and is bright white. Carrara, on the other hand, is white and has intricate grey veining. Due to its uncommonness, Calacatta marble is placed at the top of the marble hierarchy. It is found in the form of tiles, pavers and slabs. Calacatta tiles can easily be paired with any colour combination; however; those who have the luxury of affording this extremely expensive stone mostly prefer to stick to a contemporary minimalistic approach when it comes to redecorating. Calacatta is also available in a beautiful gold hue that looks ravishing when paired with white porcelain or black neo-Marquina marble. Calacatta marble is for those who have a heart for opulence and like chicly decorated living space.
Calacatta Gold Marble
Calacatta Gold marble is the epitome of grandiose and magnificence. This visually stunning marble is perfect for those who have an aristocratic taste. The golden vein of this marble look striking and add old money vibe to their area of installation. This marble is impeccable in appearance and can be paired with black marble for a voguish result.
Calacatta Michelangelo Marble
Calacatta Michelangelo marble is ideal for those homeowners who want to add a subtle touch of lavishness in their house. This marble has delicate grey veining with the most consistent white background. Calacatta Michelangelo can look amazing in any minimalist design scheme. This marble type has less is more vibe to it which is why it is recommended for all types of simple yet elegant designs.
Calacatta Borghini Marble
Calacatta Borghini marble has signature thick grey veining with occasional undertones of gold against a white background. It looks amazing as a countertop in kitchens with kitchen islands. It is lovely in appearance with a hint of drama and adds beauty to your home.
Talathello or Silver Beige Marble
Talathello marble has a light grey background with varying shades of silver and beige deposits in its structure. This marble is perfect for a dazzling makeover of outdoor spaces such as driveways and patios.
Emperador marble is a Spanish marble type found in light and dark brown colours. The shades of browns are accompanied by stark white dramatic and grey feathery irregular veining patterns. The dark shades of brown in this marble go perfectly with rooms having gold or brass furniture and accessories.
Crema Marfil Marble
Crema Marfil is another famous Spanish marble type known for its varying tones of beige with irregular patterns and varying veining intensity. It is commonly used in combination with dark-coloured marble or other natural stones to subdue their intensity with its light colour and uniform background. It is used for flooring, wall cladding and in marble mosaic products.
Carrara marble is the most common marble type, which is why it is also the least expensive marble on this list. It has a greyish white background with fine feathery grey veining. The veining pattern is generally linear and soft in appearance. The majority of homeowners uses Carrara marble as it is budget-friendly, and its whitish appearance can make the living space look livelier.
Levadia Black Marble
Levadia Black marble is a Greek marble in black with greyish white fine veining in a smoke spot pattern. It is also known as Titanium Black marble, and it is usually used for decoration of countertops.
Nero Marquina Marble
Nero Marquina is a dazzling Spanish marble in black colour. It has striking white veining that adds glamour to its appearance. This marble is a favourite of anyone who likes the contemporary design schemes and looks amazing in bathrooms, flooring in general and as backsplashes.
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Making Sense of the Relatively High Cost of an Authentic Italian Marble
Italian marble is for people who prefer to own the best things in life. One thing which puzzles a lot of people is the difference in prices between Italian marble and marble from other countries. Most people think along the lines of: “Well, it is still marble, right?” The common perception is that Italian marble is more expensive simply because it is a prestige item.
The reality is that Italian marble isn’t expensive just because it is a luxury item; it is a luxury item because of its premium quality. Let’s look at what increases the costs of marble and why specifically Carrara marble countertop prices are higher than typical marble countertops.
Marble Is a Natural Stone
The most important thing to understand about marble is that it isn’t manufactured or made. Marble is a natural stone. It is a crystallized form of limestone. Marble cannot be made in a factory. It is found naturally in the crust of our Earth, is formed when a large amount of pressure and heat act on limestone.
That is why marble is so often found near tectonic plates. When the tectonic plates shift, they put an unimaginable amount of pressure on any limestone in the crust, which in turn forms marble. This is a process that happens over the span of millions of years and cannot be replicated at the same level in any factory.
Not All Marble Is Made Equal
The fact that marble is a natural stone also means that there is a lot of variations in its quality. A marble that is made in areas where the limestone had a lot of impurities in it will end up being weak and brittle. On the other hand, marble that is made in areas where the natural conditions were good, will be of very high quality.
That is why Italian marble costs more than the other types of marble. It is just one of the finest natural stones that money can buy. This is also why Calacatta marble countertop prices are higher than other types of marble countertops.
You Get What You Pay For
Here’s something interesting to think about. Many people do not use marble because they think it is too weak and chips away too easily. At the same time, we have marble sculptures that are thousands of years old. We have historical sites where the marble installed during construction has survived to this day.
This is what you are paying for. When you buy Italian marble, you are making a long-term investment. You will not have to replace your marble countertops in a few years because they chipped away too much. Good quality marble will outlast many other types of material easily. It becomes even more resilient if you apply sealant on the marble.
Marble prices may seem confusing, but that is because of the country of origin matters. The quality of the marble depends totally on where it was extracted from. A marble that comes from Italian and Brazilian quarries is some of the best marble in the world because these countries have deposits of the highest quality marble.
Countries That Are Known For Producing the Best Marble
Turkey (1.1 Billion US Dollars)
Turkey is the biggest exporter of marble. Turkish quarries are rich in producing marbles and travertine, and they have some of the biggest quarries on the planet. Although Turkish marbles aren’t exactly as exquisite as, say, Italian marble, they are still known for their quality.
Italy (425.5 Million US Dollars)
Italy is where the hype for elegant marbles first began. Italian is the home to some of the finest natural stones like Carrara, Statuario, Botticino among others. It is the second biggest exporter of natural stones globally.
Greece (296.5 Million US Dollars)
Greece is the third biggest marble exporter in the world. Monuments like The Parthenon and Pantheon were built using exotic greek marble. Greek exports well-known marble-like Volakas, Thassos, Achilles, Arcadia Grey, among others.
Iran (166 Million US Dollars)
Iran has a monopoly over rare stones like grey Gohara stone which can only be found in the Lorestan province. Apart from rare stones, Iran has a rich quarry of colourful and durable marble, and they are famous for producing Onyx marble. The stones are so elegant that they have made Iran the 4th largest exporter of natural stones.
Spain (142.3 Million US Dollars)
The final country on our list is Spain. Spain is known to export a wide variety of marble. Some popular Spanish marble exported across the world includes Spanish Emperador, Red Chicken, Grey Chicken, among others.
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What’s so great about Italian marble?
Italian marble is considered to be superior by many due to its purity, durability, and beautiful white colour. The fact that many buildings, sculptures, and other works of art made centuries ago out of Carrara marble still exist today is considered a testament to its longevity.
Part of the reason for the purity and durability of Italian marble is the way it was formed. Marble is crystallized limestone. When limestone (a sedimentary rock) is met with high temperature and great pressure, large crystals form and bind together to create marble (a metamorphic rock.) The intense heat destroys most of the impurities once found in the stone. Left behind are large sections of white marble with varied coloured veins running through it. The colour and boldness of the veins vary with the amount and type of minerals that are present in the limestone. This naturally varies based on the location of the marble, making every marble slab unique.
Another reason that Italian marble is thought to be superior comes simply from the rich stone working heritage of Italy. They were the first to streamline and perfect quarrying methods still used today. The Italians have set very high standards for quality control and do everything with precision. Italians are still thought of as some of the most skilled cutters and carvers in the stone world today.
Let’s look at Carrara marble, for example. Since it comes from only one quarry in the world located in Tuscany, it’s in very high demand. This makes the price of Carrara marble higher than other marble types on the market. But be aware that since this marble is rare, it is also often duplicated, without the end-users knowledge.
Sometimes slabs will be cut and tagged as “Italian” when they may have been quarried in countries like China or Vietnam, then shipped to Italy for cutting and exported to the US for distribution. The term “Carrara marble” should mean that the marble was quarried from Italy’s Carrara region, not just that it was cut there. So when you’re shopping, be sure you ask a lot of questions to confirm that you’re getting what you’re paying for.
That being said, there are some other very beautiful marble choices from other areas. For example, did you know that the marble used to build the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC was made from gorgeous white marble quarried in Colorado (Calacatta Lincoln)? So, while the Italian variety is beautiful, strong, and luxurious, it’s not the “only” option.
Before Purchasing Marble for Your Renovation Project
We always suggest our clients research very carefully, before making a purchase, where the supplier that you are planning to buy the marble from gets that marble from. You have to be very careful because there is a lot of fake cheap Chinese marble out there. So not very ethical suppliers may sell you such fake for the price of authentic Italian marble.