Natural Stone Fact Sheet for Designers

Natural Stone Fact Sheet for Designers

June 12, 2018

Natural stone is a great way to incorporate the beauty and durability of Mother Nature’s creations into a home or business space. With such a wealth of options, however, it can be difficult to distinguish between different stone types to find your perfect fit.

At MARVA, we are your natural stone experts. Our consultants can walk you through our wide variety of natural stone options, including selections based on design, durability, and more.

Here, we have compiled a fact sheet for some of the most popular products that we offer, to give you an at-your-fingertips resource for natural stone.

Company Information

Antolini Luigi & C is the top producer of quality natural stone, leading the way in technology, quality, and customer service. With more than 50 years in the industry, the company, based in Verona, Italy, is a worldwide distributor of natural stone.

Antolini merges a respect for the history of each slab with inventive thinking, allowing the company to advance with new technologies. “Constantly evolving, the company has always supported new technology and development in natural stone processing – without forgetting the importance of quality,” Antolini’s story states. That commitment to technology enables Antolini to offer incredibly high quality natural stones that are perfected using their exclusive methods.

Among Antolini’s innovative stone treatment options is the newly-developed Azerocare* treatment. Azerocare protects countertops from the most common types of damage, while preserving the native characteristics and colors of each stone. During this advanced treatment process, Antolini transforms their natural stones into extremely durable, bacteriostatic, UV-resistant surfaces. The improved properties of the surfaces protect the one-of-a-kind designs created by nature, and offer expanded application opportunities throughout homes and businesses.

*Azerocare is coming soon to a MARVA® near you


Formed when molten rock erupts from the Earth’s core, granite is a classic countertop choice for anyone seeking an affordable, durable, and beautiful natural stone. The distinctive swirls and veins in granite are created by the twisting and lifting of tectonic plates during their cooling process, so no two slabs are exactly the same, even when they are from the same quarry.

Granite lies at the forefront of sophistication and practicality. This natural stone offers the elegance and grace you desire, combined with the heat resistance and durability you require.


Granite is available from a number of domestic and global quarries. The majority of the world’s granite countertops are quarried in Brazil, Italy, India, and China, but MARVA also carries granite designs from as close to home as Culpepper, Virginia, as well as options from Africa, Spain, and other quarries.

Venetian Ice Granite


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Granite is scored at a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, and won’t scratch and etch through everyday use. It is heat-resistant, so the surface will not blister or melt when exposed to heat; however, the stone’s density may mean that direct heat can cause the countertop to crack, so using a hot pad or trivet is always recommended.


Because it is resistant to heat, water, scratching, and can withstand heavy traffic, granite is ideal for kitchens, because it is not easily damaged by heat, knives, or water. Flooring, shower surrounds, and fireplace surrounds are also perfect applications for granite, since its durability can stand up to regular wear.



With its striking veins, fine texture and vast color selection, marble demands attention and captures the imagination. From Michelangelo’s David to the Palace of Versailles, marble has been a cherished symbol of luxury and refinement throughout history — and remains a popular choice for discerning homeowners and builders today.

Marble is a metamorphic rock, formed when limestone is exposed to high temperatures and pressures, and the calcite that makes up the limestone re-crystallizes and forms a denser rock. The variety of colors exhibited by marble are a consequence of minor amounts of impurities being incorporated with the calcite during metamorphism.


Although four countries – Italy, China, India, and Spain – produce nearly half the world’s marble, it is quarried all over the globe. Some of MARVA’s marbles, like New Imperial Danby, come from right here in the United States, although the world’s most popular marble designs are Carrarra marble and Calacatta marble, both of which are from Italy.

Calacatta Borghini


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Marble rates a 3 on the Mohs hardness scale, and is considered a “soft” stone – hence its common use in sculpture. It’s also a porous stone, so it’s more prone to staining and damage due to harsh cleaning products. Even natural options for cleaners, like vinegar, are a no-go on marble, since it reacts with acids.


Since marble can be susceptible to scratching and etching, interior accents like tabletops, staircase handrails, and bathroom vanities are all perfect for showcasing the luxury of marble without exposing it to excessive heat or traffic. In the kitchen, marble backsplashes bring classic grandeur to the room without being subjected to the traffic that a countertop must withstand. However, more and more homeowners are embracing the natural wear of marble and opting to install them, either choosing to be more diligent with maintenance, or letting the imperfections of their countertops tell the story of how they use their kitchen.


Quartzite is a natural stone that is taking center stage in the design world, as appreciation grows for its marble-like appearance and granite-like durability and application possibilities. Quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock that starts out as sandstone, and evolves over time under intense heat and pressure. It’s a naturally strong, heat-resistant stone, although the quality of quartzite varies, however, and heavy use can cause etching, staining or scratching.


Quartzite can be found in quarries around the globe, but most of the more bold and exotic designs come from Brazil.

Taj Mahal Quartzite


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Quartzite has a similar harness level as granite, rated at around a 7 to 8 on the Mohs scale. It is resistant to scratching and won’t etch when exposed to vinegar or citrus juices.


Since quartzite is durable and heat-resistant, it is ideal for countertops, bartops, fireplace surrounds, and nearly anywhere that granite could be used.

Soft Quartzite

Soft quartzite is a hybrid stone often known as Dolomite, and is a rock-forming mineral that is found in massive beds several hundred feet thick. It has a similar appearance to calcite-based marbles, but is harder, making it more suitable for countertop use and other high-traffic applications.


Soft quartzite can be found in quarries worldwide.

Austral Dream Soft Quartzite

Austral Dream Soft Quartzite

Hardness Scale And Durability:

As the name suggests, soft quartzite is less durable than traditional quartzite and more susceptible to staining and etching.


Like marble, soft quartzite excels in applications such as flooring or staircases. Soft quartzite can also be utilized for bathroom vanities and even – for homeowners who are able to commit to a higher level of maintenance – kitchen countertops.


Often considered the mother stone of marble, travertine and onyx, limestone’s presence throughout history makes it a quintessential choice for modern day homes and businesses seeking old-world charm.

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of minerals and crystal forms. Most limestone contains fossils or shell formations.


Limestone is found in several global quarries, and MARVA carries designs from India, Morocco, Italy, and Bulgaria.

Rainbow Sandstone Limestone


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Limestone is a relatively soft stone, rated between a 3 and 4 on the Mohs scale of harness, similar to marble.


Similar to marble, limestone is ideal for applications that don’t experience as much direct traffic, including accent tables or vertical applications, like wall cladding.


Rare and translucent, onyx serves as a luxurious focal point in spaces that catches light and seems to glow from within. With one-of-a-kind designs in almost any color imaginable, onyx brings further dimension to a home with its translucence and the ability to backlight it.


MARVA distributes beautiful onyx slabs that we source from quarries around the world, including Italy, Pakistan, Persia, and more.

Ice Blue Onyx


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Although onyx scores a 7 on the Mohs’ hardness scale, it is naturally porous and will absorb liquids, meaning it has the potential to stain when exposed to dark liquids like red wine. Similarly, it will react to acids like vinegar or lemon juice, which can cause the surface to etch.


This stone is perfect for any areas that will be illuminated with backlighting, because it catches the light in an extraordinary way. Since onyx can be easily scratched or marred by acids, harsh cleansers or knives, it’s best used to make a beautiful aesthetic statement in a space that is not meant to withstand much traffic. Backsplashes and vanities, for instance, are perfect opportunities to showcase onyx’s unique glow.


An exclusive offering of Antolini Luigi & C, Precioustone surfaces embrace the rarity and appeal of gems that have inspired fantasies for centuries. Precioustone is made up of mineral crystals including amethyst, quartz, petrified wood, agate, feldspar, fossils and other stones to form a breathtaking example of nature’s own art.


Precioustone is created by Antolini using crystals from around the world.

Blue Agate Precioustone


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Beneath its lustrous surface, Precioustone holds great strength and makes a statement in countertops, wall cladding, bars, murals and vanities. It is suitable for internal applications only.


Prescioustone slabs are ideal to make a decadent statement for interiors, from reception desks at luxury hotels or countertops or bartops in high-end homes.


Slate is a beautiful and unique material, consisting of densely compacted clay or volcanic ash. This unique make-up results in a delicate, layered appearance, softly sweeping across the stone.

Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock. The unique beauty of slate is in its monochromatic color scheme, with gentle and subtle waves of movement. Slate is also often characterized by a pearly luminescence that catches the light in an alluring sheen.


Slate is quarried in the United States and elsewhere, but is mainly produced in Spain and Brazil. MARVA carries the Nero Metal Slate design, which originates in Italy.

Nero Metal Slate - Honed


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Slate is non-porous, so it doesn’t absorb liquids, making it easy to clean and sanitary, since it won’t harbor bacteria. It’s rated a 5.5 on the Mohs scale, making it harder than marble, but softer than granite or quartzite.


Slate is ideal for interior and exterior flooring, because it can be cut into thin pieces, absorbs minimal moisture, and can withstand cold and hot temperatures and heavy weight. It’s also becoming a popular countertop choice, since it’s attractive, durable, easy to clean, and very affordable.


Soapstone’s flat, warm beauty offers a softer and more rustic aesthetic than gleaming marble or granite. Since its finish is honed or leathered rather than polished, the surface of soapstone is more forgiving of scratches than polished stones.

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that is composed primarily of talc, which means that it is relatively soft for a natural stone.


Soapstone hails from Brazil, including slabs that share the same source as Brazil’s famed Christ the Redeemer Statue, and Italy.

Graphite Black Soapstone


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Soapstone is nonporous and chemically neutral, so it won’t react to deep-colored liquids or acidic spills. The types of soapstone that are used for countertops have varying ranges of hardness, but usually will score about a 5 on the Mohs scale.


Soapstone is often used as countertops in kitchens or bartops, where its resistance to acids is key, and on fireplaces where its heat-resistant characteristics are valued.


Formed in hot springs and limestone caves, travertine’s textured and fibrous appearance wraps its surroundings in natural warmth and energy. With its unmistakable look and charm, this natural stone adds character to any space.


MARVA primarily carries travertine from Italy, but also has selections from Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.

Travertine Exotica


Hardness Scale And Durability:

Travertine is durable and heat-resistant, but can be porous and prone to staining.


Since travertine is easy to cut, it’s often used in tile form, making it ideal for backsplashes and flooring, especially when you have to fill a small or oddly-shaped space. Since it can be porous and is highly reactive to acidic substances, travertine is better used in areas where it won’t be exposed to water, vinegar, fruit juices, or liquids that are likely to stain (coffee, wine, soy sauce, etc).


Whatever surface you choose for a project, MARVA is your natural stone partner to help you select the best design, product, and application for your project. From maintenance advice to warranty guidance, you can rely on our natural stone experts and consultants at any one of MARVA’s Mid-Atlantic showroom locations to help you build your dream kitchen or bath.

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