Sculpting Glossary

What is Alabaster? 3 Different Types and What It’s Used For

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Written By Harriet Maher

This is a guide covering everything you need to know about alabaster.

Alabaster has been used by artists and sculptors for centuries because it can be carved easily and has a beautiful, white finish.

Today, alabaster is still popular among artists for its unique properties and beauty. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what makes alabaster so special and how you can use it in your own art projects.

Let’s dive in!

What is Alabaster?

Alabaster is known as calcite mineral or hard-medium gypsum, which is usually translucent and white and has uniformed fine grain.

You can see the fine small natural grain of the stone when Alabaster is put up to the light. Alabaster can be dyed in several colors because it is a porous mineral. 

Alabaster is a soft, translucent stone that has been used for centuries to create beautiful works of art. Its smooth surface and delicate coloration make it a popular material for carving, and it has been used to create everything from sculptures to jewelry.

Although it is relatively easy to work with, alabaster can be fragile, and it is often reinforced with a backing of plaster or wood. Despite its popularity, alabaster is not a particularly durable material, and it can be damaged by heat or strong chemicals.

Nevertheless, its beauty has made it a popular choice for home décor, and it is often used to create vases, lamps, and other accent pieces.

Historians believed that some of Michelangelo’s sculptures were carved from Alabaster because of their smooth texture and white color.

alabaster example

Types of Alabaster

1. Calcite Alabaster

Calcite alabaster is usually a little hard than gypsum, and it was used in Egypt and the Middle East, but it is still in use.

It is found in the walls of caverns, limestone, or stalagmite deposit from the floor.

2. Gypsum Alabaster

Gypsum alabaster was used in Medieval Europe in the past and in modern times, too, and it is softer than calcite alabaster.

3. Black Alabaster

Black Alabaster is rare and is found usually in three places in the world: China, Italy, and the United States. It is a rare mineral, and its origin is gypsum-based.

Uses of Alabaster

There are different and popular ways in which Alabaster is used like:

1. Bathroom Accessories

Alabaster is widely used in bathroom accessories. The reason for its high use in wet conditions is that it is highly waterproof.

2. Furniture Materials

Alabaster is also widely used in furniture manufacturing, and people usually place a light inside the furniture to show how beautiful Alabaster looks in the light.

3. Sculptures

Alabaster is also believed to be used in famous ancient sculptures like Egypt’s pyramids and other historical buildings.

sculpture alabaster
alabaster sculpture

What is Alabaster Made Up Of?

Alabaster is made up of different alabaster minerals, but it has one primary mineral in it.

Alabaster is made up of grained-fine form gypsum mineral known as calcium sulfate.

As a result of different impurities in the gypsum mineral, the stone takes a beautiful shape and cream color, which used to be known as Alabaster.

 It is also composed of white marble, known as calcite. They both formed geographically under high temperatures and pressure because these are metamorphic rocks.

Alabaster is sometimes confused with soapstone (Steatite), an easily polished soft stone.

soapstone example

Where is Alabaster Found?

Alabaster is found in various locations around the world

Some of the major sources of alabaster include:


Italy has a long history of alabaster craftsmanship, and the region of Tuscany is particularly renowned for its high-quality alabaster deposits.


Spain is another significant producer of alabaster, with regions like Aragon and Andalusia being notable sources.


Ancient Egypt was known for its use of alabaster in sculptures and artifacts. The country still has alabaster deposits, with the city of Luxor being famous for its alabaster products.

United States

The US has several states that produce alabaster, including Colorado, Utah, and California.


Mexico is also known for its alabaster deposits, and the city of Tecali de Herrera is renowned for its alabaster crafts.


Iran has been a historical source of alabaster, particularly from the region of Yazd.


The country has alabaster deposits and has been a source of the stone for centuries.

How Can You Know Alabaster is Real or Not?

Alabaster is a type of stone that has been used for centuries to create beautiful sculptures and carvings. It is prized for its translucence and smooth texture, and it can be found in a range of colors from white to deep red.

Because of its beauty and rarity, alabaster is often imitated by artificial materials. So, how can you tell if a piece of alabaster is real or not? There are a few simple tests that you can do at home.

1. Glow

The glow of real alabaster is different from all.

Hold the stone up to a light source and look for irregularities in the color or clarity. Real alabaster is typically uniform in color and transparency, while fake alabaster may have cloudy areas or streaks.

2. Weight and Thickness

The next thing to look out for is the weight and thickness of the alabaster.

Real alabaster is quite heavy, so if the piece you are examining feels light, it is likely not made of genuine stone.

The real alabaster has twice the weight as the fake imitations, and it is 3/8 inch thick minimum.

3. Veins

The veins are random and both dark and translucent. If you see two different pieces with the same pattern of veins in the exact location, they are not genuine.

It is always better to do some research before actually buying alabaster.

There is a big difference between what you see in a picture on the internet or magazine and the actual product.

So, you have to first search out the properties of the original alabaster from the internet or somewhere else, then buy the product.

Is Alabaster Expensive?

Alabaster can vary in price depending on factors such as its quality, size, and origin.

Some types of alabaster may be more expensive than others, and prices can range from relatively affordable to quite expensive.

Higher-quality and larger pieces of alabaster are likely to command higher prices. Additionally, if the alabaster is sourced from rare or unique locations, it can also increase the cost.

Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate over time due to factors like availability, demand, and market conditions.

For the most current information on alabaster prices, I recommend checking with suppliers, artists, or experts in the field of sculpture and stone crafting.

What is the Difference Between Marble and Alabaster?

There are many differences between marble and alabaster.

  1. Alabaster refers to two types of calcium. In old times, calcite alabaster was widely used in Egypt, but in modern times, gypsum alabaster has taken its place of it while marble has the presence of impurities that change its color and is made up of metamorphic rocks.
  2. Marble can be heavily polished as compared to alabaster.
  3. Alabaster rock usually comes in white color, but the pale brown and reddish colors also exist while marble comes in pink, green, black, white, and gray colors.
  4. Alabaster rock is more translucent than marble.
  5. Marble word is derived from the Greek marmaron while Alabaster word is taken from old French alabaster.

To further explore more about alabaster, we also recommend this video:

Is Alabaster a Good Material?

Alabaster is relatively fragile, and items made from it can be easily damaged. In addition, alabaster is not very durable and will eventually degrade over time. Despite these potential problems, alabaster remains a popular material for many artisans and continues to be used in the creation of beautiful works of art.

Is Alabaster a Stone?

Alabaster is a type of stone that is often used for sculpture and decorative objects. It is a soft stone that can be easily carved, and it has a smooth, white surface.

Alabaster is found in many different parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. In the past, alabaster was sometimes used to make bowls, statues, and other objects.

Today, it is still used for art and sculpture, as well as for making lamps, vases, and other home decor items. Although alabaster is soft and easy to work with, it is also quite fragile. As a result, it is important to handle alabaster carefully to avoid damage.

Is Alabaster a Marble?

It is often mistaken for marble, but the two materials are actually quite different. Alabaster is much softer than marble, and it can be easily carved using simple tools.

In contrast, marble is a much harder material that requires specialized equipment to carve. Alabaster also has a lower density than marble, meaning that it is lighter in weight.

This makes alabaster easier to work with and transport. Finally, alabaster typically has a smoother surface than marble, giving it a more polished look. While both materials have their own unique benefits, only alabaster can truly be classified as a soft stone.

Is Alabaster the Same as Onyx?

Alabaster is a type of soft stone that is easy to carve and shape. It is typically white or pale in color, with a smooth, streamlined texture. Onyx, on the other hand, is a type of hard stone that is difficult to carve.

It is typically dark in color, with a banded or striped appearance. These differences make alabaster and onyx suitable for different purposes.

Alabaster is often used for delicate sculptures and carvings, while onyx is more commonly used for sturdy jewelry and decorative objects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is alabaster a real stone?

Yes, alabaster is a real stone. It is a soft, fine-grained form of gypsum that is often used for sculpture and decorative purposes due to its translucent appearance and smooth texture.

What is alabaster made out of?

Alabaster is primarily made out of gypsum, a soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate. It forms through the evaporation of water from ancient sea beds, and is often found in quarries and mines around the world.

Is alabaster stone rare?

Alabaster is not considered a rare stone, as it is found in many locations around the world including Italy, Spain, Egypt, and the United States. However, high-quality and unique varieties of alabaster can be more valuable and sought-after by collectors and artisans.

Final Remarks

Alabaster rock is widely used in almost every part of the world. It adds beauty to our products and provides them with a shiny look.

And one cannot neglect the importance of this essential material. It has unique properties that make it easy to use according to our choice to enhance the attractiveness and beauty of the materials.