The big marble guide – everything you need to know about the popular material
Marble has been a popular and high-quality building material for thousands of years, characterized by exclusivity, elegance and quality. Throughout human history, the high-quality stone has been used for the construction of buildings, temples, baths, sculptures and furniture.
Scientists have determined that marble was first mined approximately 2,600 years ago. This first marble mining was located on the island of Paro, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, where the so-called “Parian marble” was mined in the local Greek quarries. Did you know that Parian marble was used for the world-famous sculpture “Venus de Milo”? Its creation could be dated back to around 100 BC. Be dated.
But the actual use of marble is a little older. For example, marble was already used as a decorative material in the Egyptian pyramids. As early as 700 years before Christ, marble stood for wealth and power. Its use therefore runs through anthropology - from the Egyptian pyramids, the Roman Empire and the Taj Mahal to the modern city of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, where most of the white marble in the world has been used to date.
But what exactly is marble and what makes this special material special?
What is Marble? Components and types of natural stone
The very name “marble” suggests an essential feature of the elegant rock. “Marble” is derived from the ancient Greek word “mármamos” and can be translated as “shimmer” or “shining”. When exposed to sunlight, the rock and the minerals it contains reflect light, giving the marble its shiny and shimmering effect. That's why marble was often used for sculptures, as the iridescent and reflecting light breathed "life" into the sculptures, so to speak.
From a petrological perspective, marble is a metamorphic rock that must consist of at least 50 percent calcite, aragonite or dolomite to be categorized as marble.
By the way, many people think that marble is exclusively white in color - this is incorrect and a myth. You surely know the famous white marble Taj Mahal in India, right? The Maharaja Sha Jahan had the world-famous white marble mausoleum built for his favorite wife (who doesn't have a favorite wife...). What most people don't know is that the Maharaja wanted to have his own black marble counterpart, his own mausoleum, built a few hundred meters from the white Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, the building was never completed and there are still many myths and legends surrounding the black mausoleum. Nevertheless, this legend tells us that there is black marble - and many other colors too.
The color of a marble is defined by the mineral components it contains. Marble can be gray, black, red, green, cream or white. There are “unicolored” varieties, or patterned varieties, which geologists used to call “colorful” marble.
And what characterizes the colorful marble and makes it one of the most popular types of stone in the world?
What properties does marble have?
Marble has different properties depending on its mineral composition. For most types of marble, however, it is a water-impermeable stone, with individual marbling, a crystal-like structure and a particularly aesthetic appearance. In addition, marble is a poor conductor of heat. This is one reason why in Italy marble was and still is often used for paths or floor coverings, as you don't burn your feet in high sunlight like with other stones.
In this country, it is rather unusual for marble to be used untreated and unsealed for worktops, tiles or floor coverings. Since marble is not acid-resistant and frost-proof, dull spots can theoretically form on the surface over time, which visually bothers some people. Meanwhile, the Italians and French, who admittedly have fewer problems with frost, see this natural and optical change as an artistic feature of the rock and even welcome it. Some cultures and peoples are not at all bothered by the visual or tactile changes in marble, while other people prefer a flawless and polished surface. Anyone who has ever been to the Vatican knows that certain marble statues of saints are kissed and touched so often that the surfaces have slowly been rubbed away (after tens of millions of touches over several centuries, mind you) - one or two saints are therefore missing a toe.
And which types of marble and marble colors are particularly popular?
Marble Types: The Most Popular Colors
There are thousands of different types of marble, with different colors and different marbling. Did you know that many of the marble statues we know of today, which are white today, were painted with bright colors in ancient times? The Greeks and Romans liked to colorfully decorate the marble sculptures with colors that are no longer visible today. We don't paint our marble, promise.
Well-known and popular types of marble include the following:
- Black limestone with white veining
- Mining location: Spain
- Age: approximately 310 million years old
- A combination of calcium carbonate and calcium-containing components
- a hard natural stone that can accommodate fossils and shells inside
- A white calcite marble with a veined structure
- Mining location: Carrara, Italy
- Age: approximately 180 million years old
- The absolute classic, a little darker in color, among the marble types from the world-famous Carrara quarry
- Million-year-old white marble from Greece
- Marble with a strong contrast between the light tone and the gray veins that give the stone authenticity
- The ancient Greek palaces were built with this stone, such as the Acropolis.
Marble offers these advantages and disadvantages
Advantages of the material
The benefits and positive properties of marble are diverse and difficult to list. Marble has always been a noble natural product with an individual grain shaped by geological processes, which makes each table unique. With marble you not only bring timeless elegance into your home, but also a real piece of world history.
The waterproof surface structure of marble makes it an easy-to-clean material that is particularly suitable for those who are allergic to house dust. It is very difficult for dust to settle on the smooth surface of the marble and bacteria and viruses cannot survive for long.
Naturally, the unique and elegant look of marble is difficult to imitate and the special charm that surrounds marble can only be obtained from real natural stone. Marble is classic, stylish and a good investment that fits seamlessly into any room and interior design style.
Disadvantages of natural stone
As already mentioned, marble as a floor covering or as a kitchen worktop, if unsealed, can develop dull spots after a long period of time, which are caused by heavy use of the material or by contact with acids. In certain countries, such as Italy and France, this is not a problem because the natural aging of the material is considered a characteristic and quality feature - similar to a leather jacket or a pair of jeans. However, if you personally are bothered by the visual change, then an in-house polish with beeswax or externally by a specialist can restore the old shine. We would also like to note that we have a patented sealing technology that makes it possible for us to make every natural stone suitable for your intended purpose. If this could be of interest to you, please contact our valued experts in the customer service team.
By the way, you can find everything you need to properly care for your marble here in our Marble care items read.
From quarry to piece of furniture: This is how marble is mined and processed
The ancient Egyptians and Julius Caesar swore by marble and had the noble stone quarried to refine buildings and interiors. Fortunately, non-patricians and non-pharaohs can now also afford the beautiful stone and acquire it for building houses, interior design or furniture.
By the way, most marble is mined in India, Iran, the USA and Italy. But how does this admittedly heavy stone actually find its way into our four walls?
Mining areas and methods of marble mining
Marble has been extracted and mined worldwide, including in Europe, for several centuries. Surprisingly, the mining method has not changed as much as one might think. Marble is primarily mined using wire saws equipped with hard metal beads. Blocks of rock of different sizes are sawn out directly from the quarries.
The blocks are then sawn again into several slabs, which then make their way to different natural stone processors, such as MAGNA Naturstein. There they are processed for the intended area of use with very low energy consumption.
Marble furniture: How natural stone visually enhances your home
Marble remains one of the most popular and elegant materials for home construction, interior design and high-quality furniture.
The material has not gone out of fashion for several thousand years and will not do so in the future. Marble is commonly used for kitchen countertops, bathroom cladding or outdoor use. It is also a popular material for unusual decorative objects, such as our tables from the Magna Atelier and statues. Natural materials add elegance and warmth to a room.