The mountains of Italy, particularly the Massa-Carrara region, have long been celebrated for their yield of high-quality marble, especially white marble that bears its regional namesake: Carrara. Michelangelo referred to the Apuan Alps as the "marble mountains," and he carved his masterpiece -- the statue of David -- out of white statuary marble, which is one type of Carrara marble.
Carrara Marble Vs. Statuary Marble
Carrara marble is characterized by its white background and distinctive gray veining. The whiter the marble, the more valuable it is. In fact, Carrara marble that has dark, distinctive veins is often considered "junk" marble. Statuary marble, another white marble, is actually a type of Carrara marble. It's 98 percent calcium carbonate and often has little veining, making it desirable for sculptures and statues. It's also sold under the names Statuario or Statuarietto.
A Variety of Applications
Carrara marble is considered a high-end luxury stone worldwide. It's used in both contemporary and traditional applications, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Narrow strips of marble set horizontally lend a modern touch to kitchen backsplashes. Large-format polished marble tiles are a luxurious choice for spa-like master suites. Statuary marble is favored by artists and sculptors. Large blocks are carved by hand and with machines for fireplace surrounds.
A complex system of grading is applied to each block of marble, whether it's white Carrara marble or statuary. The higher the grade, the higher the price. For example, Bianco Carrara marble, a white marble, is graded in a range from C to CD to D, depending on the level of gray veining.
Size and Finishes
Carrara marble is excavated from quarries in blocks that weigh tons. The marble can be sold in this format or cut down into slabs or tiles of various sizes suitable for a range of residential and commercial projects. Marble may be honed for a matte look, or polished so that it has a reflective surface. Statuary marble has a thick texture and shine that appeals to artisans. It's usually given a high-polish finish.