What is Nero Portoro and why is it the best black marble in the world?

What is Nero Portoro? The finest black marble in the world


What is Nero Portoro marble?

The Nero Portoro marble quarry is based in Portovenere which is an island in La Spezia province, Liguria Region, northern Italy. Portoro is an Italian black marble which formed approximately 200 million years ago, its extraction first began at the time of the Roman Empire and the marble was discovered by the sculptor Domenico Casella, who at the time obtained the required permission to extract the material from the senate of the Province of Genoa.

Quarry Nero Portoro Italian black marble
Quarry Nero Portoro marble in Italy

Potoro is one of the most prestigious and luxurious marble varieties available in the market, with elegant, characteristic colouring of gold and white veins beautifully contrasted across a sleek black background, it’s no surprise that this marble can be found in some of the most extravagant and distinguished places in the world. Being a very delicate and fine-grained marble, it is perfect for high-end projects and  mainly used for interior applications such as countertops, splashbacks, kitchen islands, bathroom walls and flooring etc. Its beauty is enhanced by polished finishes but can also be available in a honed finish.

Nero portoro close up
Nero Portoro gold veined close up

Due to a number of factors, one of which is the proximity of the quarries to the sea, the extraction process of Portoro is quite unique and complicated as it requires several weeks of preparation at the quarry level (bancata) before the extraction of the material can begin. This process and its potential extraction difficulties contributes to the reason there is a high cost of slabs per square meter, and not just for the prestige of the material itself.


Use of Nero Portoro marble

Portoro blocks are of medium/small size and their value is increased by their very limited availability, as a consequence of this the average slab dimension is slightly smaller than regular slabs; the thickness the blocks are cut to is always 20mm (or 3/4”). 

Amazing bathroom in Nero Portoro marble
Beautiful modern bathroom in Nero Portoro marble

Portoro is primarily regarded as a suitable material for many different uses such as wall coverings, floor tiles, kitchen countertops and even cladding. The polished finish is generally preferred by clients as it gives a level of shine to the finished project that adds another layer of elegance. Thanks to its unique veining patterns, striking colours, impressive appearance and high cost, this black and gold marble is frequently utilized in feature projects and statement pieces in high-end luxury residences and glamorous hotels. 

Nero Portoro marble basin
Stunning basin in Nero Portoro marble extra quality

Another frequent and stunning use of Portoro is as an inlay application for things like tables or benchtops as its sleek black colouring makes a perfect contrast when combined with another light coloured marble or a design object. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon to go into restaurants/bars/hotels in Moscow, New York and London and see this amazing black marble applied in countertops or decoration for tables, chairs and objects such as glasses or cups.


Types of Nero Portoro

In the quarry we find different levels of this beautiful black marble (‘’bancate’’) and each level has a different quality of Portoro:

– At the top we find the tetto or “roof”, this is the layer that has to be uncovered to prepare the extraction of the materials below.

– The first layer is “scalino” or “stair/step”, which consists of a black background with thinner gold veins. This type is called Portoro “macchia fina” or “fine spot”. The level is approx 80cm – 90cm high and so the blocks extracted from this layer are of average dimension.

Nero portoro marble slabs
Nero Portoro marble slab 20mm thickness, polished surface finish

– The second layer is called “banco” or “bench”, this layer has the usual black background and gold veins, however these veins are slightly wider than the previous ones and are arranged in a swirling pattern. The level is roughly between 120cm – 150cm high.

Nero portoro close up gold veining
Nero Portoro close up, golden veining

– The third layer, called “sottobanco” or “under bench”, features the same black background and yellow veins however these veins are more faded and tend to be mixed with more white as well as flanked by white patches. This level is between 100cm – 120cm high.

Nero portoro marble slabs 20mm thick
Nero Portoro marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) honed finish

– The fourth layer is called “zoccolo” or “hoof”, this layer is characterised by very faded veins and wide white spots. This level has a depth of approximately 200cm – 360cm.

– The final layer, called “sotto zoccolo” or “under hoof”, has the classic black background but with white veins and white spots as well as some pink. This is the most widely available type and its depth ranges between 3m and 10m.

The most precious variety are those in which the yellow/gold veins are more present. The other varieties, with veins and spots that are nearly white, are also widely requested due to, despite being less valuable, their superior compactness.


Nero Portoro Pricing

Portoro prices vary based on the type of Portoro; slabs from the most well known Portoro “macchia fina”, as well as the other layers situated at the top levels of the quarry are generally priced higher due to gold veins featuring heavily in their colouring, these slabs can range between €750 – €1500 per square meter

Layers where the veining begins to morph into white or grey are considered less prestigious and so prices can vary between €450 – €750 per square meter

Always keep in mind that there are other factors affecting the final price such as slab dimensions, natural imperfections, thickness, and missing corners on slabs.



What’s the difference between Statuario and Calacatta marble?

What is Statuario marble & what are the differences with Calacatta marble?


What is Statuario marble?

statuario-marble-wall-bookmatch
Statuario marble bookmatch wall made by slabs 20mm thick (3/4”)

When it comes to prestigious marble that radiates luxury and elegance, you can’t get much better than Statuario marble. Together with Calacatta, it is considered one of the major white marbles due to its pristine quality and stunning aesthetic, this rare and exclusive stone has a characteristically bright white background with captivating grey veins throughout in patterns that are both striking and bold, as well as delicate and feathered. Statuario is the ideal marble for indoor applications such as reception counters, kitchen countertops and splashbacks, floor tiles and bathroom vanities; it can often be found in 5 star hotels and prestigious residential premises.

Bianco Statuario Marble slab
Stunning slab of bianco Statuario marble 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Bianco Statuario marble slab close up
Bianco Statuario marble slab close up with white sheet

Statuario marble gets is name from its quarries of origin, the renowned quarries in the mountain region above Carrara of Italy, however, availability for Statuario is much more limited than other varieties and suppliers cannot keep up with the high demand, this makes Statuario one of the very most exclusive and sought after marble types in the world.

Kitchen with Statuario marble
Kitchen backsplash with Statuario marble

Types of Statuario

There are two main type of Statuario marble, the first and most prized variety is called “Bianco Statuario”, this marble is of the purest quality and can be totally milky white with some fading light veins or more classic bright white background with few big thick veins crossing the slabs called ‘’bastoni’’ in Italian, or tree branches. Due to its striking aesthetic this variety is often coveted for statement projects with the use of bookmatch patterning.

Bianco Statuario marble slab
Fantastic Bianco Statuario marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Bianco Statuario marble slab close up
Bianco Statuario marble slab close up with hand

The second version is “Statuario Venato”, this variety has a bright white background making it the perfect canvas for its characteristic busy straight veins splashed across the slabs that are darker and more distinctive than those of Statuario Bianco . The light and dark contrast is truly unique and makes this particular marble ideal for projects in a well lit room, e.g. a countertop in a kitchen with lots of natural light or a statement piece in a bright bathroom.

Statuario Venato marble slab
Statuario Venato marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Statuario Venato marble slab
Statuario Venato marble slab close up with hand

Pricing

When it comes to Statuario Bianco, there are a variety of factors that must be considered when determining the price of individual slabs, these include the white background colour, the lack of natural imperfections and the amount of veining. The whiter and cleaner the slab is and clear of natural imperfections, and the fewer the veins, the higher the price goes. Taking these factors into consideration as well as its rarity and general exquisite quality, Statuario Bianco slab prices generally run quite high compared to all other marble varieties, therefore the price for a slab can vary between €650 – €1900 per square meter. 

Statuario Extra
Amazing big polished slabs of statuario extra marble 20mm thick (3/4”)

Instead, the Statuario Venato quality is generally more affordable than its prized sibling and you can expect to find slabs ranging between €450 – €950 per square meter.  These slabs still hold with still a crisp white background color with much less natural imperfections than Calacatta for example, but the veining patterns are much busier and likened to that of many of the Calacatta varieties, and so the slabs are more affordable than Statuario Bianco.


Primary differences between Statuario Bianco and Calacatta marble 

It can be confidently said that together, Statuario Bianco and Calacatta represent the top bracket of most sought after and highest quality luxury marble in the world, both types are very expensive with Statuario taking top spot in terms of price. However, when we get down to it, the end decision of which marble you go with (if you can find it readily available), usually comes down to a matter of taste and which particular slab best suits your specific project, e.g. kitchen, reception countertop or statement bathroom.

bianco statuario
top quality slabs 20mm thick in bianco statuario

While both Calacatta and Statuario Bianco slabs can generally be found to the same dimensions and the same pure, crisp white background, there are some major differences that together can make a large distinction between the two varieties, these include vein colour and patterning, and natural imperfections.

Calacatta borghini marble slab exta quality
Beautiful slab ofCalacatta borghini marble exta quality
Calacatta borghini marble slab close up
Calacatta borghini marble slab close up

Calacatta typically can be found with a wide range of vein hues, including light to dark grey and blue, as well as the classic brass or gold tones that some of Calacatta marble varieties are famous for. This is important when you consider that Statuario is more monochromatic, so you will generally only find slabs that have light to dark grey veining with very limited colour variation and a lack of gold veins. Another big distinction is the pattern of the veins across the slabs; Calacatta typically has quite busy veining that is furiously splashed across the clean white slabs, whereas Statuario Bianco ideally will have a very limited number of sizeable grey “bastoni” or branches, crossing a bright white slab which give it its unique appearance, leaving the remainder of the slab largely free of veins. While this is not always the case, if you do find a slab that matches this description you can expect to pay a premium price.


The last major difference between the two is natural imperfections. While Calacatta marble is generally hailed as one of the most prestigious marble types in the world, it does often come with the odd natural tear, open vein or occasional natural yellow marking or stain within its composition. Luckily, modern measures are in place to ensure these inherent imperfections pose no threat to the integrity of the slabs. These days, Calacatta blocks are all resin treated and then cut into slabs, each slab is then individually treated with resin again and a net is placed at the bottom side of the slab to permanently maintain its composition. While most Calacatta slabs will have natural imperfections, Statuario Bianco on the other hand, is a more solid and compact marble, so it does not come with the occasional tear or open vein. However, due to the rarity and value of each slab, all Statuario blocks and slabs are still resin and net treated for added safety and assurance both to the supplier, and the lucky buyer.



Why Arabescato is a great alternative to Carrara and Calacatta marble?

Why should you choose Arabescato as great alternative to Carrara & Calacatta Marble?


What is Arabescato marble?

Originating from Italy and quarried in the Carrara area, Arabescato is a rare and highly sought after marble with average availability of slabs or tiles.

Arabescato-Carrara-Marble-Polished
Stunning slab of Arabescato marble Polished finish 20mm thick (3/4”’)

What makes Arabescato marble so unique is its soft white background coloring with bold  dusty grey veining across the slabs that often gives the impression of jagged white islands floating on a deep grey lake. The combination of these two aesthetic factors is the primary reason this particular marble is one of the most popular selections for statement piece kitchen countertops, wall & floor panels, splashbacks and bathrooms

Arabescato Marble Bathroom with bookmatch wall
Arabescato Marble Bathroom with bookmatch wall made by 20mm thick slabs (3/4”) honed finish

As with Calacatta, Arabescato is commonly used for stunning bookmatched applications as its veining allows the creation of different and unique patterns and shapes. 

The two most well known quarries that produce Arabescato are Corchia and Vagli, however, there are some lesser known quarries such as Faniello, Cervaiole, Arni which also produce excellent high-end Arabescato quality choices, even if they are less renown. Later, we will touch on how the characteristic Arabescato veining can be identified based on the quarry from which the material is extracted.


Differences between Arabescato with Carrara and Calacatta marble

If you are looking for a marble with exceptional vein patterns and colouring but also with a decent price tag, then Arabescato is an excellent option. It is is considered a compromise between Carrara and Calacatta as it not only has a strong white background color with dark veins which is highly sought after by clients, but it doesn’t come with as high a cost as Calacatta; this means it is a perfect choice in terms of quality and price. 

Arabescato Corchia quality marble slab
Stunning Arabescato Corchia marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Arabescato Corchia marble close up
Arabescato Corchia marble slab close up

On the lower end of the price scale, Carrara marble can be identified by its oftentimes more greyish background colouring with more subtle or no veins, whereas Arabescato is much whiter and shows mostly dark grey veins across the slabs. Both are very compact.

Carrara bianco C grade marble slab
Carrara white C grade marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”)

The primary difference between Arabescato and Calacatta is that the former has busier veins and fills in most parts of the slabs, whereas Calacatta has stronger, light grey veins that are slightly larger but with less pattern traffic across the slabs.

Calacatta Extra marble slab
Calacatta marble extra quality polished finish, 20mm (3/4”) thick

One interesting thing about this particular marble variety is that it is highly compact and very strong, in fact Arabescato slabs generally don’t bring as many problems as Calacatta for this particular reason. Calacatta commonly shows more natural imperfections such as natural cracks or tears (which get resin treated), instead Arabescato blocks are usually more intact. 

Arabescato-Vagli-marble-Kitchen-island-top
Kitchen island and cupboard in Arabescato Vagli marble made by 20mm thick (3/4”) slabs polished finish

However, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that Arabescato blocks and slabs are not resin treated, 95% of all blocks and slabs undergo the same resin and net treatment as Calacatta as a matter of safety and assurance of the marble’s structural integrity. During the block cutting process it’s often unknown what problems there may be inside, purchasers who buy blocks with the intention of cutting slabs for individual or bulk sale don’t want to risk losing money on their investment, so the resin treatment is considered insurance against this.


Pricing

Pricing for Arabescato is per square meter and is firstly determined by the quarry following block extraction, and secondly by the manufacturer after processing the block and resin treating the slabs. While the price per square meter can vary quite a lot depending on size, colour and veining, it’s still classified as a marble more suited to a lower budget than Calacatta and so you can expect mid-range prices. The typical Arabescato price range is generally between €120 – €290 per square meter slab.

Arabescato Vagli marble slab
Stunning Arabescato Vagli marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish


How to buy Calacatta marble slabs or tiles

Want to buy Calacatta marble for your project? Read here to find out how to start your search


Calacatta marble bathroom
Calacatta marble bathroom made by cutting to size 20mm thick first quality slabs

When it comes to finding the perfect Calacatta marble slabs or tiles for your kitchen, bathroom or floor/wall project, the process can be a little more involved than if you were purchasing Carrara for example, this is because Calacatta slabs are famously more detail oriented, and so the decision can come down to personal choice or which bold aesthetic you prefer. We always recommend you find out for yourself a bit of info about each of the types of Calacatta, that way you will better understand what type of quality you will be going with, as well as which quarry and its subsequent marble variety you are more oriented to, E.g. Calacatta Viola, Borghini, Vagli, Gold, Paonazzo, Macchia vecchia or Bettogli

Calacatta Borghini marble slabs
Slabs of Calacatta Borghini 20mm (3/4”) thick

Click here to know more about different characteristics between calacatta qualities.

See below for our advice on buying Calacatta slabs or tiles and getting the biggest bang for your buck:


Tips: Selecting Calacatta marble slabs

– These days, it’s becoming more and more difficult to view and choose slabs in person. This is for a couple reasons, the first reason being that people based anywhere in the world simply cannot get to Italy where the best slabs with the highest availability are accessible and fairly price, or to the warehouse where the slabs are located. The other (and more pressing) reason is because when you view slabs at a warehouse, most of the time you can only indicatively see one of the slabs which represents the block it was cut from as it is positioned at the front or above the others (some blocks can have 80 slabs). So as every slab can have slightly different colour and vein variations to the next you will find it very difficult to fully gauge what is actually on offer and you may not be able to properly see all the slabs that are available. However, thanks to modern technology this is no longer a problem as most buyers who want to buy Calacatta marble slabs can request high definition and exact photos of each slab from the supplier in order to make a final decision, once your decision is made you can request for your chosen slab/s to be reserved. Video and close up photos of the slab batch are also often provided by suppliers upon request.

Calacatta Marble countertop
Big Countertop in Calacatta marble extra quality

– When it comes to reserving your slabs for your kitchen, bathroom or floor/wall project, we recommend you ask your supplier if the slabs have any specific issues you may need to be aware of such as resined natural cracks, tears or small holes (tarolo). These issues will all be very minor and even add a little character to your slabs as no slab will be available to purchase that has any major issues that may threaten its structural integrity. You may also want to see some samples, and while this can be beneficial for other marble varieties, with Calacatta it is not recommended as the sample will be coming from a different batch so will not accurately represent any slabs you may look at due to the different veining pattern and design. 

Calacatta Extra marble slab
Calacatta marble extra quality polished finish, 20mm (3/4”) thick

– If your project requires the veins to match, ask your supplier to advise if the slabs numbers are consecutive and if the block has been cut with a bookmatch method or with the traditional method. Your supplier should be able to show you some high definition photos of slabs that have been cut with the bookmatch method and so are suited to your needs.

Calacatta marble bookmatch
Calacatta marble 4 ways bookmatch slabs

– For the best quality slabs and availability, ask your supplier to show you slabs with a thickness of 20mm ( 3 / 4 ‘’), this is the most common slab thickness and all the best slabs are cut to this size as it is more versatile than the 30mm (1 1 / 4 ‘’) option. 

Calacatta Gold marble slab
stunning Calacatta gold marble slab 20mm thick (3/4”)

– Our last piece of advice is to use what we call the “maximum exploitation method”, meaning you should try to select a slab which is close in size to what you require based on the dimensions of your project, this way you make use of as much of the slab as possible and minimize your waste. When it comes to marble, the waste game is very important and makes a huge difference in the final price.


Tips: Choosing Calacatta marble tiles

Calacatta gold marble tiles
Calacatta Gold marble tiles 600 x 300 x 10mm or 24” x 12” x 3/8” – honed finish

Similar to the slabs, the purchasing process for Calacatta tiles is a little more involved than most other varieties. This is due to the fact that it’s a more exclusive niche product with less availability than Carrara quality, for example, and with many different variations of background colour and veining patterns. It is always recommended to do a little research on the different types of Calacatta marble so you can make an educated decision on which quality you will be going with, as well as which quarry and its subsequent marble variety you are more drawn to, E.g. Calacatta Viola, Borghini, Vagli, Gold, Paonazzo, Macchia vecchia or Bettogli

Calacatta extra marble tiles
Calacatta Extra marble tiles 600 x 300 x 10mm (24” x 12” x 3/8”) honed finish

When buying fixed size Calacatta tiles, the price can be pretty affordable as the tile production starts with unshaped blocks which allows the manufacturer to keep the price reasonably low due to the lower amount of processing time and therefore resources. 

Calacatta Extra marble tiles
Calacatta Extra marble tiles 600 x 300 x 10mm (24” x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

Predominantly found in either a honed or polished finish, Calacatta tiles can generally be found in a variety of sizes and if your project required it, you can request whatever dimensions you need (as long as they can be cut from regular sized slabs), but the most common dimensions are 600mm x 600mm (24’’ x 24’’), 600mm x 300mm (24’’ x 12’’) and 300mm x 300mm (12’’ x 12’’). The most popular thickness for Calacatta tiles is 10mm ( 3 / 8’’), but you can also find them in 20mm ( 3 / 4’’) as well at way higher cost.



How to buy white Carrara marble tiles and slabs


Want to buy Carrara marble tiles or slabs? Everything you need to know

Block yard of Carrara marble
Yard of Carrara Bianco Marble Blocks

Whatever your preference or requirement, Carrara marble can be purchased in both slabs or fixed size tiles and are primarily available in a polished or honed finish. Slabs are approximately 3m x 1.5m on average and can be cut to specific sizes if required. Instead, tiles are fixed size and can commonly be sourced in a variety of dimensions; see below for details. 

Carrara marble tiles polished
Processing Carrara Marble Tiles in the polishing machine

Tiles: What you need to know

When buying fixed sized tiles, the price is reasonably affordable as production is carried out from smaller unshaped blocks, this allows the fabricator to keep the price relatively low due to minimal wastage and production/cutting process.

carrara bianco marble C grade tiles
carrara bianco C grade tiles 600 x 600 x 10mm (24”x 24” x 3/8”)

As a rule, Carrara marble tiles are usually 10mm thick (3/8”) but 20mm thick (3/4”) tiles can also be available upon request, and while there are a wide variety of finishes available, with white marble such as Carrara, the two primary finishes are honed or polished.

Carrara Bianco C Marble Bathroom
White Carrara Marble Bathroom C grade Tiles used for wall and floor 600 x 300 x 10 mm (24” x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

Tiles can be available in a variety of dimensions, the most common being 600mm x 600mm (24’’ x 24’’), 600mm x 300mm (24’’ x 12’’) and 300mm x 300mm (12’’ x 12’’); but, if the fancy took you, you could also request tiles of any dimension you require, so long as it they can be cut from the average sized slabs.

Carrara White CD Marble Bathroom
Carrara bianco marble bathroom CD grade tiles 600 x 600 x 20mm (24”x 24” x 3/4”) polished finish

Tile grade: 1st grade or commercial 2nd grade

First grade or premium grade marble tiles come with the highest price tag as a result of all the tiles originating from the same batch of slabs or blocks with consistent coloring and vein pattern. 

Carrara marble C grade Tiles
carrara bianco C grade tiles 600 x 300 x 10mm (24”x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

Instead, Commercial grade marble tiles come from different batches of slabs or blocks so the colouring and vein patterns are less consistent and uniform. During installation, your specialist should spend some time carefully selecting tiles for optimal pattern aesthetics, this is usually done by doing a “dry lay” (laying down the tiles without adhesive). Though the tiles won’t match as accurately as first grade tiles, this is still a great option and very affordable for your bathroom wall & floor or any other type of flooring & wall covering.

Carrara marble CD grade tiles
carrara bianco CD grade tiles 600 x 600 x 10mm (24”x 24” x 3/8”) polished finish

Carrara is available in many variations such as Gioia, Venatino, C, extra or CD. The most available is the CD quality which shows a greyish background color and this is why the price is going to be quite lower compared to the others. The C quality Carrara characteristically shows a whiter background color, but being less available the price per square meter goes up significantly. 

Bathroom in Carrara bianco marble herringbone tiles
Herringbone carrara marble tiles bathroom wall

By doing a quick recap, the 3 main things you should be asking your supplier when requesting Carrara marble tiles for your bathroom or kitchen are: 

1. What grade is it? First or commercial from different batches/lots.

2. What’s the quality? C or CD, this makes quite a difference.

3. Is this Italian Carrara marble? Unfortunately, many suppliers around the world have started labelling their marble as Carrara even though they originate from different countries such as Turkey or China. Make sure what you are buying comes from Italy.

carrara-marble-white-Tiles-polished
Carrara marble C grade marble bathroom tiles 300 x 300 x 10 mm (12” x 12” x 3/8”) polished finish

Consider that most of the suppliers, especially those you find online on e-commerce websites, offer commercial quality products and CD quality at very low prices and so you should expect a product with pretty greyish background color and with variations and/or little consistency between tiles.


Slabs: buying guide

While smaller, unshaped blocks are used for tiles, the opposite can be said for slabs. The ideal block for fabricating slabs are those that are well shaped or larger in size, even if there is a corner missing in a block it will still be used for slabs if it is larger in size. When it comes to slabs, pricing can be determined by a variety of factors including the quality of the slab and the amount of wastage you produce.

Carrara bianco C grade slabs
Truck loading of Carrara bianco C grade marble slabs 20mm thick (3/4”)

Overall, before wasting time on your search for the perfect slabs it’s always advisable to take the following factors into consideration to keep the overall cost close to your budget:

1. Waste is important

Use what we call the ‘’maximum exploitation method’’, meaning you should aim to choose a slab which is closer in size to what you need based on the dimensions of your specific project, with this in mind you utilize as much of the slab as possible and minimize your waste. For example, let’s say you want your kitchen countertop and splashback in Carrara marble with your countertop being 2.6m x 0.65m and the  splashback 2.6m x 0.70m, you should aim to find a slab which is approximately 2.7m in length and 1.4m in height. In the end the first rule with marble is ‘’do not create waste’’ or that is going to cost twice as much.

carrara-white-marble-kitchen-top
Carrara marble C grade Venatino kitchen worktop and island

2. Thickness

Choose slabs with a thickness of 20mm (3/4”); always keep in mind that the best quality Carrara marble blocks are primarily cut into 20mm thick slabs. 30mm slabs (1 1/4”) are frequently requested but these slabs are often of a slightly lower quality and are more ideally suited for countertops and not flooring or walls.

3. Quality

If price is a problem go for a CD quality rather than C, it’s still an excellent choice and a quality product.

Carrara Bianco C Marble Slab
Slab of Carrara bianco CD grade 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Carrara marble C grade slab
Slab of Carrara bianco C grade 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish
Carrara bianco C venatino
Slab of Carrara bianco C venatino grade 20mm thick (3/4”) polished finish

4. Shape

Don’t worry if the slabs have missing corners or are not perfectly rectangular shaped, your fabricator should charge you less and you would get a better deal if the slabs are not perfectly shaped. As long as you can get the cut-to-size products you wanted from those irregular slabs, you shouldn’t be too concerned with the slab shape and instead focus on the good deal you got!

Carrara marble vanity top
Vanity in Carrara C extra marble cut from Slab with missing corner. polished finish


What’s the difference between Calacatta gold, Paonazzo and Borghini marble?


What is Calacatta or Calacatta Gold marble?

Originating from Italy and extracted in Carrara, Calacatta or Calacatta Gold marble is a rare and highly sought after marble with more limited availability than most other types of marble.

Calacatta marble block
Stunning block of Calacatta marble in the block yard in Carrara, Italy
Calacatta gold marble
Fantastic block of Calacatta gold marble in the block yard in Carrara, Italy

What makes Calacatta so unique and classified as the forefront of high end marble is it’s crisp, pure white background colouring teamed with dramatic vein patterning that can consist of various colours such as grey to brown and gold to green or blue. The combination of these two aesthetic factors is the primary reason this particular marble is one of the most popular selections for statement piece kitchen countertops, wall panels, splashbacks and bathrooms.

Calacatta marble bathroom
Bathroom in Calacatta marble extra quality

Calacatta can be designed in a variety of ways but one of the more striking and on-trend uses is to create your statement piece with the use of bookmatch patterning. Bookmatch is the process of joining two or more marble slabs cut from the same block, this creates a vein pattern mirror effect.


Types of Calacatta marble and the differences between them

Calacatta marble is quarried in different locations in the Carrara area with the most famous being “Cava Ruggetta”, famous for extracting high quality marble such as Borghini. There are approximately 165 active extraction sites in the Carrara area and 510 quarries closed for operation which have been selected for environmental recovery and transformed into parks, green areas and recreational areas. Most quarries extract Carrara quality marble, but those extracting the exclusive Calacatta can be split in the following categories:


1.Calacatta Borghini

– The King of Calacatta marble varieties, Borghini marble is a classy choice with its stark white background and thick deep grey veining, soft grey feathered lines and the frequent gold highlight. The production of this particular marble has become limited and available stock is rare so it’s no surprise this marble is so coveted for luxury statement pieces.

Calacatta borghini marble slab exta quality
Beautiful slab of Calacatta borghini marble exta quality
Slab close up, Calacatta borghini marble exta quality

2.Calacatta Oro/Calacatta Gold

A little secret; most people won’t know that this is just a commercial name given by manufacturers from Italy as well as the rest of the world. The reality is that every type of marble under the Calacatta bracket can be named Calacatta Gold, as long as it has honey or gold veins within the slabs. Generally, the two primary Calacatta gold varieties come from three main quarries; Borghini (Cava Ruggetta), Bettogli and Vagli.

Calacatta Borghini Gold
Calacatta Borghini Gold marble slab
Calacatta Borghini marble slab
Calacatta borghini marble slab same block as the slab image in the previous paragraph. Notice how slabs from the same block change from one to another.

3.Calacatta Vagli and Vagli Gold

– The main identifier for this particular marble is it’s busy vein patterning that can come in a variety of hues, the most notable being grey or brass (vagli gold). With its crisp white base, this marble is ideal for larger projects due to its impressive veining.

Calacatta Vagli marble
Calacatta vagli marble slab
Calacatta Vagli gold marble
Calacatta Vagli gold marble
Calacatta Vagli gold marble close up
Calacatta Vagli Gold marble slab close up

4.Calacatta Bettogli

– Another stunning and highly prestigious marble due its dramatic vein patterns. While some of the other Calacatta varieties may boast a range of different vein hues, Calacatta Bettogli is primarily white and grey. Rarely also available in its ”extra quality” which represent the most expensive range in price x square meter. This quality usually doesn’t show as much gold as you might find in the Calacatta Borghini.

Calacatta-Bettogli-Extra
Beautiful Calacatta Bettogli marble slab

5.Calacatta Paonazzo

– The extraction of this stunning material is carried out by the company “Gemignani & Vanelli” which operates in a quarry called “Calocara A102” based in Carrara. Calacatta Paonazzo is a stylish and unique choice with its pure white colouring, this marble boasts bold dramatic vein patterning often with straighter lines than the other Calacatta varieties. Veining colours can range from light to dark grey, red and gold.

Calacatta paonazzo marble slab
Fantastic Calacatta Paonazzo marble slab
Calacatta paonazzo marble close up
Close up Calacatta Paonazzo marble slab

6.Calacatta Macchia Vecchia

– Originating from quarry number 9 based in Torano village, Tuscany, the owner Claudio Santi meticulously manages the extraction of this distinctive material. With limited availability, Calacatta macchia vecchia has many similarities with its sibling, Calacatta Paonazzo, but with more presence of busy red and gold fierce veining across the slab. Loved by interior designers due to its unique characteristics of pure white colouring and veining colours, it is a very attractive choice for kitchens, bathrooms and particularly in bookmatched applications.

Calacatta macchia vecchia marble slab
Stunning Calacatta macchia vecchia marble slab
Calacatta macchia vecchia close up
Close up Calacatta macchia vecchia marble slab

7.Calacatta Viola

– Extracted from the Apuan mountains in the province of Lucca, Tuscany (very close to Carrara). An elegant variety of Calacatta, Viola turns heads with its vivid red wine veining on a classic white base. Primarily available in slabs, this marble is an excellent choice for a statement piece.

Calacatta Viola marble slab
Beautiful Calacatta viola marble slab
Calacatta viola marble slab close up
Close up Calacatta viola marble slab

8.Calacatta Michelangelo

-Also called Statuario Michelangelo. The quarry, based in the carrara area, was temporarily closed in 2019. The quarry, owned by Mr Franco Barattini, became famous after Michelangelo started sourcing this marble for his magnificent sculptures. Differing from the others but no less elegant, Calacatta Michelangelo generally exhibits subtle grey veining that gives the appearance of fading into the white background. 

Calacatta Michelangelo marble slab
Clean polished Calacatta MIchelangelo marble slab
Calacatta MIchelangelo marble slab close up
Close up Calacatta MIchelangelo marble slab

Characteristics of Calacatta / Calacatta gold marble

Due to its limited availability, Calacatta is one of the rarest marble varieties in the market. Each block is inherently different which means that slabs even from the same block can exhibit colour changes and differing vein patterns making each and every slab unique. The colours of the characteristic veining may also be determined by the quarry of origin, for example Calacatta Bettogli with its classic and recognisable bold grey veining from the Bettogli quarry.

Used primarily in kitchen countertops, kitchen islands and bathrooms, Calacatta marble is often the first choice when it comes to sourcing a high-end luxury marble that will make a statement. Slab dimensions are commonly 3m x 1.6m with a thickness of 20mm, on extremely rare occasions you may find a block that reaches 3.4m in length, but more often slabs are no more than 3m long.

Bathroom in Calacatta borghini marble
Example of Calacatta Borghini marble slabs used in a Bathroom in a 4 ways bookmatch patterning
Calacatta Borghini marble  bathroom 4 ways bookmatch
Bathroom in Calacatta Borghini marble 4 ways bookmatch wall application

Often characterised by an assortment of bold vein patterns and feathery lines on a crisp white background, Calacatta’s distinctive look is truly unique, but with unique natural stones comes the occasional natural tear or open vein. Luckily, modern measures are in place to ensure these inherent imperfections pose no threat to the integrity of the slabs. These days, all Calacatta blocks are resined and then cut into slabs, each slab is then individually treated with resin again and a net is placed at the bottom side of the slab to permanently maintain its composition. Most Calacatta slabs will have natural imperfections and if you do find a slab without any, you can expect to pay a premium price.


Pricing

Being one of the most exclusive marble varieties in the world, Calacatta or Calacatta gold slabs can fetch a high price, especially if the slabs are clean in color and veining and don’t bring any natural imperfections. 

Calacatta Marble Extra quality
Example of Extra quality Calacatta marble: very clean white surface with light grey beautiful veining

A variety of factors will determine the final price of each slab, including the presence of natural defects which have been resin treated, background color, veining pattern, the quarry the Calacatta was extracted and the dimensions of the slab and thickness (most commonly 20mm); therefore slab prices can range between €550 per sqm up to €1900 per sqm.

6 reasons why you should choose Carrara marble

Why should you choose Carrara marble?


1. Origins

Carrara marble is a natural stone with more than 2000 years history since its extraction began in the stunning Apennine mountains located in the northwest part of Italy, specifically from the city of Carrara in the Tuscany region.

Carrara marble quarry
Carrara marble quarry: block extraction

Marble is created when limestone (usually formed from algae, coral and shells) undergoes a metamorphosis when tectonic plates converge. The heat and pressure from this occurrence changes the composition of the rock, and over thousands of years crystals form giving the stone its undeniably stunning crystalline appearance. The close proximity of the Apennine mountains to the sea means that it’s an ideal location for producing some of the highest quality marble in the world.

Italian marble originates from a land where its history is highly ingrained in the country’s culture, as made evident by its use throughout the entire country, from north to south. It comes as no surprise that you can go to any village bar or modest family house and see counters, flooring, kitchens or bathrooms made of this material.

Block yard of Carrara marble
Yard of Carrara bianco marble blocks

Carrara has been used in many famous architectural structures and Renaissance artworks such as The Pantheon in Rome, Marble Arch in London and the statue of David by Michelangelo and nowadays we can say that it’s use has played a big part in world history from a country which represents some of the biggest UNESCO heritage sites in the world.


2. Made in Italy

The marble industry in Italy represents a large part of the workforce responsible for supporting many families in the Tuscany area alone. Quarrying and manufacturing processes have been refined, perfected and passed down over many years by generations of family members. 

Marble workers cutting slabs
Italian artisans moving white marble slabs

Whether you are looking for slabs, tiles or cut to size products like vanity tops, countertops and wall and floor tiles, you will find an end product that is processed by highly skilled artisans based all over the country.

From locating marble veins, to quarrying the blocks, to the manufacturing processes in the workshop, the combination of generations of knowledge and some of the world’s most advanced and precise cutting technology, results in final products with the highest end finishing details.

gangsaw-machine-marble-block
Carrara marble block cutting in gangsaw machine

3. Price: It’s not always as expensive as you may think

White Carrara marble is available in different shades that are distinguished by use of a grading system; the 2 main grades are C and CD. Grade C marble exhibits a whitish background color with a light grey vein pattern, whereas CD grade marble has a more greyish background color and a darker vein pattern. Due to it’s white colouring, C grade marble is the more expensive of the two options with CD graded marble being suited for projects that require a more budget friendly option.

Bianco-Carrara-marble-C-grade
Carrara bianco marble C grade slab

The price of tiles and slabs can considerably vary depending on the grade, dimensions, thickness, background color and the vein patterning. For example, the price of a 20mm thick polished slab can vary between €70m² (basic CD quality) and €180m² (C higher quality), so the price may change dramatically based on the factors mentioned above. 

Carrara White CD Marble Bathroom
Bathroom in Carrara CD grade marble

If you are a private client, designer or contractor then you may require your product to be cut-to-size, the cost would then also be determined by the manufacturing work required as well as the amount of wastage (off-cuts) created. 


4. It’s a green material

Marble is a natural, environmentally friendly product, which also brings with it a deep sense of nature.

Carrara-Marble-Quarry
Bancata ”quarry level” of Carrara marble quarry

In the past 15-20 years, the process of quarrying in Italy has improved enormously from an environmental perspective. Domestic quarries today are required to comply with rigid guidelines and certifications and are monitored by strict government entities. With these strict guidelines comes new eco friendly manufacturing procedures such as a lower energy consumption due to improved technology, as well as the installation of 100% recycled water systems that are used during the cutting process. 

Marble-slabs-cutting-to-size
CnC new technology machine cutting white marble slabs

In addition to increased green practices, many old quarries have been and continue to be turned into parks, green areas, lakes and recreational areas. 

Marble is 100% recyclable and these days fabricators use the manufacturing waste for other projects such as roadbeds. Recent advanced studies show a new method of using marble dust in cement to increase the strength and durability of the cement; if this becomes a successful practice, marble could become a zero waste product. It should also be noted that other common materials used for kitchen countertops such as quartz and ceramic require use of silicones or have a less eco friendly manufacturing process.


5. Durability and added property value

By default, Carrara marble significantly boosts the financial value to any property is it used in. This is due to its beauty, clean aesthetic and unique character that can transform any space from drab to elegant, modern and luxurious.

In addition to its property value boosting abilities, marble is surprisingly easy to maintain and just requires resealing every once in a while. There are various marble care tips out there but as long as you always keep in mind that it’s a natural product and can react to acids, food or drinks and treat accordingly, then all will be fine.

Carrara marble KItchen countertop
Carrara marble kitchen countertop and kitchen island

Marble is extremely durable so it will last as long as the building it’s added to (or even longer!). Instead, materials such as ceramic and porcelain may require changing every 5-10 years as new looks and a better range of products is added to the market.


6. It’s unique

Due to its natural creation and evolution, every piece of marble is unique; slabs originating from the same block will all exhibit slight changes in veining or color from the other slabs, resulting in every single slab and block being classified as one-of-a-kind. In a way, it feels like you own an original piece of artwork by nature.

Carrara bianco Marble slab
Carrara bianco marble slab
carrara-bianco-marble-bathroom
Carrara white C grade marble bathroom

When choosing your marble from Carrara, you can be confident that you are getting a highly sought after product that is also distinctly exclusive and owned by you.