"Granite and marble is expensive," is an often heard assumption. While many years ago this statement was – for most of the natural stone materials – true, today it is far less the case as granite and marble prices have dropped substantially.
In recent years, a large number of new granites and marbles at very competitive prices appeared in the natural stone market — mainly from countries such as China and India. Natural stone producers in Europe, America and other parts of the world reacted by reducing granite and marble prices themselves. A number of natural stone companies went out of business because the low prices did not permit to continue profitable operations.
But not all natural stone is cheap today. There are also those granites and mables that are still extremely exclusive and expensive. The cost of a natural stone depends on a number of factors. We want to look briefly at a few of them to understand why there are so large diferences in prices at the natural stone market.
The first step in the natural stone production process is the quarying of the granite or marble. The natural stone has to be extracted from a mountain or soil. This is the first important factor when thinking about natural stone production cost. Sometimes, the granite or marble quarries are located in remote areas that are difficult to access, and it may even be necesary to build a new road only to be able to get to the natural stone quarry during rain season.
The mechanical properties of a granite or marble may influence its price as well. Think of cutting the natural stone block into slabs or tiles for flooring. The harder the natural stone, the more time it requires to cut and the more energy it consumes. And it is speaking of days that it takes to cut one block of granite. Therefore, very hard natural stones like Azul do Mar can be relatively costly at the time of cutting. On the other hand, they can be extremely long lasting — speaking of decades and centuries — because they are so hard.
A third factor when it comes to prices of natural stone is the availability of a certain type of granite or marble. The deposits of some natural stones are very limited and only allow for the extraction of a small quantity of material. The investment for setting up the machines and open then quarry however remain the same. To reach a profit it is therefore necesary to sell at a higher price than the common mass market natural stones.
The mass market granites and marbles often come from quarries with large deposits of natural stone. Those deposits often have a capacity to deliver huge monthly quantities of granite or marble for a period of many decades.
For what we have learned, the quality of cheaper natural stone can be as good as the quality of more expensive granites and marbles. However, there are unfortunately also producers of cheap natural stone that deliver poor quality. It is therefore always a good idea to take a closer look at the natural stone you want to buy. Before the actual purchase of a larger quantity of a certain granite or marble, it is usually a good idea — and may save money and trouble — to get a third opition from an outside natural stone expert.