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Marble vs. Alabaster: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Marble is a hard, crystalline metamorphic rock, while alabaster is a softer, translucent, fine-grained sedimentary gypsum or calcite.
Marble vs. Alabaster

Key Differences

Marble is a metamorphic rock formed from limestone or dolomite under high pressure and temperature. Alabaster, on the other hand, is a sedimentary rock made from gypsum or calcite, formed in cooler and less intense conditions.
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Marble is known for its hardness and durability, making it suitable for various construction and artistic uses. Alabaster is much softer and more easily carved, often used for intricate sculptures and decorative items.
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Marble typically has a crystalline structure with veins of mineral impurities, giving it a unique pattern. Alabaster is known for its smooth texture and translucency, often with a milky or pearly appearance.
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Marble has been used throughout history in architecture and sculpture, famously in Greek and Roman art. Alabaster's softer nature makes it ideal for smaller, more detailed works, often used in medieval and ancient Egyptian art.
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Due to its hardness, marble is more resistant to scratches and wear, but it's also vulnerable to acid. Alabaster is more delicate, easily scratched and affected by moisture, requiring careful handling.
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Comparison Chart

Composition

Metamorphic, from limestone or dolomite
Sedimentary, from gypsum or calcite
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Hardness

Hard and durable
Softer and more malleable
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Appearance

Crystalline, often veined
Smooth, translucent, often milky
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Artistic Use

Suitable for construction and sculpture
Ideal for intricate, detailed works
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Maintenance and Care

Resistant to scratches, sensitive to acid
Delicate, sensitive to scratches and moisture
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Marble and Alabaster Definitions

Marble

Formed from limestone or dolomite.
The marble statue was carved from a single block of dolomite marble.
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Alabaster

Often used for small, intricate artworks.
Medieval artisans preferred alabaster for their delicate carvings.
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Marble

Characterized by its veining and durability.
The kitchen countertops were made of durable, veined marble.
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Alabaster

Exhibits a smooth texture and milky appearance.
The alabaster lampshade had a smooth, pearly surface.
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Marble

A metamorphic rock formed by alteration of limestone or dolomite, often irregularly colored by impurities, and used especially in architecture and sculpture.
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Alabaster

A fine-grained, translucent form of gypsum.
The alabaster vase glowed softly under the light.
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Marble

A piece of this rock.
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Alabaster

Softer and easier to carve than marble.
The artist chose alabaster for his detailed sculpture due to its malleability.
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Marble

A sculpture made from this rock.
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Alabaster

Requires careful handling due to its softness.
The alabaster ornament was handled with care to avoid scratches.
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Marble

Something resembling or suggesting metamorphic rock, as in being very hard, smooth, or cold
A heart of marble.
A brow of marble.
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Alabaster

A dense, translucent, white or tinted fine-grained gypsum.
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Marble

A small hard ball, usually of glass, used in children's games.
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Alabaster

A variety of hard calcite, translucent and sometimes banded.
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Marble

Marbles (used with a sing. verb) Any of various games played with marbles.
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Alabaster

A pale yellowish pink to yellowish gray.
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Marble

Marbles Slang Common sense; sanity
Completely lost his marbles after the stock market crash.
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Alabaster

A fine-grained white or lightly-tinted variety of gypsum, used ornamentally.
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Marble

Marbling.
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Alabaster

(historical) A variety of calcite, translucent and sometimes banded.
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Marble

To mottle and streak (paper, for example) with colors and veins in imitation of marble.
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Alabaster

(color) An off-white colour, like that of alabaster.
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Marble

Composed of metamorphic rock
A marble hearth.
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Alabaster

Made of alabaster.
The crown is stored in an alabaster box with an onyx handle and a gold lock.
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Marble

Resembling metamorphic rock in consistency, texture, venation, color, or coldness.
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Alabaster

Resembling alabaster: white, pale, translucent.
An ominous alabaster fog settled in the valley.
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Marble

A metamorphic rock of crystalline limestone.
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Alabaster

A compact variety or sulphate of lime, or gypsum, of fine texture, and usually white and translucent, but sometimes yellow, red, or gray. It is carved into vases, mantel ornaments, etc.
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Marble

A small ball used in games, originally of marble but now usually of glass or ceramic.
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Alabaster

A box or vessel for holding odoriferous ointments, etc.; - so called from the stone of which it was originally made.
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Marble

Statues made from marble.
The Elgin Marbles were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon.
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Alabaster

A compact fine-textured usually white gypsum used for carving
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Marble

(transitive) To cause (something to have) the streaked or swirled appearance of certain types of marble, for example by mixing viscous ingredients incompletely, or by applying paint or other colorants unevenly.
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Alabaster

A hard compact kind of calcite
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Marble

(intransitive) To get or have the streaked or swirled appearance of certain types of marble, for example due to the incomplete mixing of viscous ingredients, or the uneven application of paint or other colorants.
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Alabaster

A very light white
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Marble

(transitive) To cause meat, usually beef, pork, or lamb, to be interlaced with fat so that its appearance resembles that of marble.
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Marble

To become interlaced with fat; (of fat) to interlace through meat.
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Marble

To lace or be laced throughout.
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Marble

Made of, or resembling, marble.
A marble mantel
Marble paper
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Marble

(figurative) Cold; hard; unfeeling.
A marble heart
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Marble

A massive, compact limestone; a variety of calcite, capable of being polished and used for architectural and ornamental purposes. The color varies from white to black, being sometimes yellow, red, and green, and frequently beautifully veined or clouded. The name is also given to other rocks of like use and appearance, as serpentine or verd antique marble, and less properly to polished porphyry, granite, etc.
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Marble

A thing made of, or resembling, marble, as a work of art, or record, in marble; or, in the plural, a collection of such works; as, the Arundel or Arundelian marbles; the Elgin marbles.
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Marble

A little ball of glass, marble, porcelain, or of some other hard substance, used as a plaything by children; or, in the plural, a child's game played with marbles.
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Marble

Made of, or resembling, marble; as, a marble mantel; marble paper.
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Marble

Cold; hard; unfeeling; as, a marble breast or heart.
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Marble

To stain or vein like marble; to variegate in color; as, to marble the edges of a book, or the surface of paper.
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Marble

A hard crystalline metamorphic rock that takes a high polish; used for sculpture and as building material
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Marble

A small ball of glass that is used in various games
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Marble

A sculpture carved from marble
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Marble

Paint or stain like marble;
Marble paper
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Marble

A hard crystalline metamorphic rock.
The marble floors added a touch of elegance to the lobby.
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Marble

Used in architecture and sculpture.
The ancient Greeks built many of their sculptures using marble.
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Marble

Requires maintenance to preserve its appearance.
To maintain its shine, the marble surface was regularly polished.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Where is marble commonly used?

Marble is widely used in construction, sculpture, and as a material for countertops and floors.
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What is alabaster?

Alabaster is a soft, translucent sedimentary stone, typically gypsum or calcite.
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What is marble?

Marble is a hard, crystalline metamorphic rock formed from limestone or dolomite.
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Can marble be used outdoors?

Yes, marble can be used outdoors but may require treatment to protect against weathering.
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How should alabaster be cared for?

Alabaster should be kept dry and cleaned gently to avoid scratches.
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Is alabaster easy to carve?

Yes, alabaster's softness makes it much easier to carve than marble.
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What are the main uses of alabaster?

Alabaster is primarily used for intricate carvings, decorative items, and small sculptures.
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How durable is marble?

Marble is quite durable and resistant to scratching, but it can be affected by acids.
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Is alabaster more expensive than marble?

The cost varies, but generally, alabaster can be less expensive due to its softer nature.
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Can marble be polished to a high shine?

Yes, marble can be polished to achieve a high gloss finish.
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Are there different colors of marble?

Yes, marble comes in a range of colors, depending on the minerals present during its formation.
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How is marble formed?

Marble forms under high pressure and temperature conditions from limestone or dolomite.
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What makes marble unique in appearance?

Marble's unique veining and crystalline appearance make it distinctive.
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Are there different types of marble?

Yes, there are many types of marble, each with unique patterns and colors.
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Can alabaster be transparent?

Alabaster is translucent but not fully transparent, allowing light to pass through softly.
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What are the historical uses of alabaster?

Historically, alabaster was used for statuary, small religious carvings, and decorative items.
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Can alabaster be repaired if it gets damaged?

Alabaster can be repaired, but due to its softness, repairs may be noticeable.
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Is alabaster resistant to weathering?

No, alabaster is quite sensitive to weathering and is better suited for indoor use.
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What types of finishes are available for marble?

Marble can be finished in various ways, including polished, honed, or brushed.
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How does light interact with alabaster?

Light can softly diffuse through alabaster, giving it a warm, glowing appearance.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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