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.

*If you are a private client, contractor, architect, or designer, we can deliver to you wherever you are. All you need to do is find a stone fabricator or manufacturer in your area where we can deliver our product.


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

*If you are a private client, contractor, architect, or designer, we can deliver to you wherever you are. All you need to do is find a stone fabricator or manufacturer in your area where we can deliver our product.


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.

*If you are a private client, contractor, architect, or designer, we can deliver to you wherever you are. All you need to do is find a stone fabricator or manufacturer in your area where we can deliver our product.

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.

*If you are a private client, contractor, architect, or designer, we can deliver to you wherever you are. All you need to do is find a stone fabricator or manufacturer in your area where we can deliver our product.

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.

*If you are a private client, contractor, architect, or designer, we can deliver to you wherever you are. All you need to do is find a stone fabricator or manufacturer in your area where we can deliver our product.


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.