Carrara marble is one of the most frequently used and recognized stones in the world. It has been quarried for centuries and shipped around the world for use in art and building materials. Learning to recognize Carrara for its properties and uses can help you to appreciate this rich and historic material.
Marbles, which include those found in Carrara, Italy, are metamorphic stones. Limestone, a sedimentary rock made of calcite, undergoes tremendous amounts of heat and pressure to change it chemically into becoming the stone known as marble.
Marble in its purist form is white, although it can be given color by the presence of other minerals in the rock. Marble is found all over the world, with one of the largest quarries found in Carrara, Italy. This quarry produces a gray and white marble known as Carrara marble.
Carrara Marble Appearance
Like all natural stones, Carrara marble varies from piece to piece and from lot to lot. Since Carrara marble has been quarried for so many years, the stone itself has changed appearance over time and will likely change again in the future.
Carrara marble has predominantly a white to light gray background. On its surface, darker, cool shades of gray veining are featured. These veins can be heavy and narrow and appear in streaks, or they can be very light, only slightly darker than the background and appear in small spots.
Carrara Marble Makeup
Like all marbles, Carrara marble contains a great deal of calcite at its base. Its makeup also includes minerals such as magnesium, iron oxide, silica and two minerals found no where else in the world, carraraite and zaccagnaite.
Types of Carrara Marble
Depending on the location in the quarry where the stone was taken from, its appearance and its mineral makeup, Carrara marble can be broken into varying subclasses. Bianco Carrara is the most common and least expensive of the Carrara stones. It has a light gray background and exhibits varying amounts of veining. Statuary Carrara has a bright white background with much less veining and variation. Statuary, or "Statuario," is a more expensive stone, prized for its color. Bianco Venatino is a mid-ranged Carrara marble lighter in color than Bianco Carrara but not as pure as Statuario.
Uses of Carrara Marble
Carrara marble can be found in sculptures, columns and some outdoor architecture as well. Arguably its most famous use is on display in Michelangelo's "David." Carrara marble is used to produce many household features, including tiles, thresholds, countertops, vanity tops, table tops, stairs and walls. Since the Carrara quarry in Italy is one of the largest and oldest in the world, Carrara marble can be found virtually anywhere marble is used.