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Igneous rock with visible grain, primarily quartz and feldspar

Speckled appearance with sparkly mica and dull black flecks

Extremely hard rock that is difficult to carve by hand

Grays, pinks in a wide range of colors

Commercial granites include gneiss and other rocks not strictly granite

Exhibits a full range of grain sizes with uniform surface patterns

Granular with no discernable bedding planes

Often used for monuments and tombs


Soft, sedimentary rock primarily composed of calcite

Fossils may be recognizable and are the most diagnostic trait

Tan, buff or gray colored that darkens with age

Matte surface almost never polished

Somewhat rough texture, rarely “sugars” like marble

No marked veining like marble

No definite layers or bedding planes like sandstone

No sparkly mica grains like granite

Often gets gypsum crusts


Hard, dense crystalline or granular metamorphic limestone

White when new or in new breaks, but older marbles may appear gray from soiling

Capable of taking a high polish, yellows with age

May have veins of gray or gold

Commercial marble is any lime carbonate capable of taking a polish, could include limestone and many colors

Tennessee marble is medium-grained similar to limestone in texture with a pink cast

Georgia marble is very large-grained, somewhat gray in color

Predominant stone for gravestones in the 19th century

Many early marbles are eroded and “sugaring”


Sedimentary rock composed of cemented sand grains – “bedding planes”

Red and brown (Brownstone) in color, can be gray, tan or blue (Bluestone)

Fine-grained stone with sand grains

Often flakes and delaminates


Metamorphosed shale, hard and brittle

Usually black, gray or blue

Sometimes fades with time

Extremely smooth, fine-grained stone with even bedding planes usually running parallel with the stone’s face

Holds carving very well, inscriptions usually very clear

Uniform surface appearance

Gravestones tend to be thin and simple in shape, generally not more than six inches


Metamorphic rock

Largely composed of the mineral talc and is rich in magnesium

Easily carved and darkens over age

Smooth to the touch

Used in 19th century, commonly for slot and tab tombs in Georgia

White, gray, greenish gray, pale green -- commonly discolored in reddish or brownish hues and mottled


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