10 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Headstone

Headstones are Both Art & History

China Black hand-carved double angels embracing China Black double hearts.
China Black hand-carved double angels embracing China Black double hearts.

10 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Headstone

Monuments are products that most people never think about and rarely shop for. Headstones come in many shapes, sizes, and colors and vary from simplistic designs to extraordinary mausoleums. When you begin shopping for a tombstone there are several key elements that you should consider, including the materials from which the headstone is made. However, for purposes of this article, we will be discussing the most popular headstone material: granite.

1) The Cemetery's Headstone Rules


It is helpful to obtain a copy of the cemetery's rules and regulations to determine if a specific type of headstone is required. Some cemeteries require flat granite markers, some require bronze markers that are mounted to flat granite markers, and others will allow upright headstones. It is important to know what your cemetery allows so that you do not waste your time and energy looking at stones that will simply not be allowed.

2) How Many People Will the Headstone Memorialize?


Before shopping for a memorial it is wise to know if the stone will be for one person (a single monument) or for two people (a double monument). If you are trying to memorialize more than two people on the same stone then you will need to specify that to your monument company representative. While it is not uncommon for up to four people to me memorialized on the same cemetery stone, you may be better suited for something larger such as a family estate monument, a mausoleum, or a family cremation nitche.

3) Surrounding Memorials

Many families indicate that they would like a monument that is approximately the same size, shape, and color as other headstones in their general area of the cemetery. Others, however, indicate that they want something different that will stand out from the other stones and be one of a kind. In either case it is important to know what general sizes and colors are in the area so that you can begin the idea process.

4) Granite Color

Granite comes in many different colors. Some families desire a granite color that matches that of a family estate monument while others desire a color that is simply affordable. It is important to note that the color of your headstone will have an impact upon the price of the stone simply because different granite colors are quarried and shipped from all over the world thus having an impact on the cost.

5) Shape and Size

Size matters in the pricing of headstones. In fact, when combined with the granite color, the shape and size will have a large impact on the price of your memorial. However, if you are willing to pay the price, you can find a monument in just about any shape and size imaginable.

6) Artwork

It is difficult to sum up a loved one's life on one piece of stone. However, with the use of moden technology, just about any look may be achieved. And, while your memorial artwork, like the shape and size of the granite, will have an impact on the price. With memorials, the sky is the limit. There are memorials that have been shaped like cartoon characters, religious emblems, and even sporting equipment. Some headstones boast extensive laser etching while others have porcelain photos on them. When forming your initial ideas it is helpful to think about things that were most important to the person you are memorializing and discuss your ideas and budget with your monument company's representative for further discussion.

7) Epitaphs

Epitaphs are simply sayings that come to mind when thinking of a loved on. Popular epitaphs include Bible versus, proverbs, song lyrics, and personal sayings. Epitaphs are optional and do not need to be on a headstone but look nice when families choose to have them.

8) Genealogy

Families often choose to have a brief genealogy posted on the back side of their headstones for generations to come. Genealogies may identify who a person's spouse, child or grandchildren are or may include a more extensive genealogy including extended family. If you would like to have a genealogy on your stone it is important to gather the names of those whom you wish to include and to verify the spellings if possible.

9) Setting

Each cemetery has a different set of setting instructions and it is good to make sure you are familiar with them so that you can communicate those requirements to your monument company. Some common setting requirements include cemetery flagging fees, grave marking procedures, and foundation requirements. If your cemetery does not have an active caretaker who marks graves then it is a good idea to supply your monument provider with rough directions to the grave so that they may find it.

10) Length of Time

All individuals and families grieve differently. Some prefer to purchase their stone immediately upon death while others prefer to wait until their emotions have settled. A headstone is a major purchase and should be considered only when you feel ready to discuss your ideas and confident enough to make a final decision.

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