What is so special about the most famous and desirable marble on earth? Maybe it’s the Italian origin, maybe the allure that it was Michelangelo’s favorite stone to carve his sculptures on. Or maybe the fact that it adorns so many cathedrals, churches and castles throughout the world. Maybe it is its unique mix of white, grey and hues of gold. Or maybe it’s all of the above. The truth is that Calacatta is the most sought after material in the natural stone universe. But as anyone who has shopped for Calacatta knows there are so many types and price ranges out there so how does one know if they are buying the real thing or a cheap knock off version?
Vinny Tavares has been going to the Carrara area of Tuscany in Italy – the land of Calacatta – for the past 10 years. He goes at least once a year depending on material availability and his list of backorders for the fancy Italian marble. Aria’s founder explains: “What most people don’t understand is that there isn’t a single mountain (quarry) of Calacatta where people extract blocks from. Reality is that it’s a vast mountain range producing all kind of white materials (Bianco Carrara, Goiai, Venatino, Statuarietto, Staturio and finally Calacatta. They are all white marble with more or less the same geological formation. What truly differentiates them – as the Italians have discovered hundreds of years ago – is its veining and how white the background is. The whiter the material, the more expensive the slabs. The more “uniform” its veining the pricier it gets.”
So what makes the perfect calacatta slab? Tavares believe that first and foremost you need to understand what’s not “Calacatta”. Just because someone calls a statuario calacatta it doesn’t make it a true calacatta. Second you need to understand the differences of the several calacatta quarries (such as Borghini, or Franchi or Furrer or Belgia or Michelangelo or Manhattan or Paonazzo just to name a few). Third you need to be able to read the subtleties between blocks from the same quarry and finally being able to visualize how they would look like once in slab format.
At Aria we only go for the best calacatta slabs, the one in a thousand. The one with the most unique veining and most clear and consistent pattern. The end result is crystal clear, even for those who can’t pinpoint Carrara in the map!
Carrara tends to be muddy and not very pure white. It is less expensive and more common to find in the marketplace. Calacatta on the other hand has very bold veining. Each Calacatta slab is unique and much more rare than your Carrara.