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.
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 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:
– 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.
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.
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.
– 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.
– 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.
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.
– 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.
-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.