Quality vs. Price
Why is there such a wide range of prices for natural stone?
The price of natural stone is mostly dictated by aesthetic value, supply and demand, and quarry, transport, and duty costs. Roman Travertine, which is quarried at ground level and below, rather than high in the mountains, is plentiful, therefore, relatively inexpensive. A rare granite, such as Brazilian Blue has limited supplies, making it one of the highest priced of the natural stones. Every stone will have a wide range of prices based on the quality of the slab, quality being measured by beauty, size of the slab, and purity of the slab.
How do you qualify the beauty of the slab and price it accordingly?
In this case, beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder; it is judged by the expert eyes at the marble or granite quarry. The materials are graded based on veining, color, and homogeny, and priced accordingly. White Carrara marble, for example, has been quarried from the Tuscan mountains in Carrara, Italy, for hundreds of years. Michelangelo traveled to Carrara to hand-pick blocks of Carrara marble for his sculptures more than 500 years ago. Although we are still getting Carrara marble from the same mountains, it is quarried from different parts of the mountains, yielding slabs which vary in their physical characteristics.
Why would slab size matter?
A large slab will require fewer seams when cut and fabricated.
What do you mean by purity of the slab?
A high-quality slab will have few or no cracks or fissures, and no unattractive mineral deposits.
Why should I pay for a high-quality material if I can’t tell the difference?
You can tell the difference, and that is why you should visit several stone yards before making your choice. Many yards offering discount prices offer low-quality slabs and tiles that have uneven veining, unattractive mineral “stains”, or even cracks and fissures. Look around, take photos, and compare materials. If prices from different yards for the same material are far apart, it is probably due to a difference in quality.