For many people buying a memorial can be a daunting prospect, especially if it is the first time they have been involved in the process.
Few people are aware that headstones and memorial plaques can be purchased from a variety of sources.
Funeral companies, cemetries and stone masons make good use of the advantage of their involvement in the funeral process to sell memorials to their clients. However, they seldom make purchasers aware that these products are also available from monument retailers who offer a far wider range and, very often, a higher quality alternative.
These monument retailers have reputable online design services allowing customers access to the widest range of choices.
Headstone Purchasing Tips
- The first step is to check the cemetry regulations on the size and type of headstone they allow. Some cemetries restrict the materials permitted for example to granite or bronze.
- Find out if the cemetry has a preferred installer. A recommended installer should hold the correct insurances and the installation should comply with the cemetry’s regulations
- Monument retailers will check both the cemetry regulations and the recommended installer for you.
- Material choices can be limited if purchasing through a cemetry stone mason or the cemetry itself. Granite headstones are favored by most purchasers over marble due to its durability, ease of maintenance and ability to be laser-engraved.
- Check the source of the granite used. Online laser-engraved headstone manufacturers use only the highest quality, blackest granite because of the requirements of the laser. Stone masons and many cemetries often use a sub-standard granite.
- Compare prices. Headstone purchasing can be expensive. Online manufacturers offer an automatic price calulation with no hidden extra costs and many will ship for free. Purchases should be made through secure sites only. These can be identified by looking for the ‚lock’ symbol prior to purchase and by only using sites with reliable payment methods such as B-Pay and Direct Funds Transfer.
- When buying a memorial online your design is computer- rendered for you. You can change and adapt it many times until all loved ones are happy before you finalise the design. A delivery timeframe will also be given.
How Much Does a Headstone Cost?
The final cost of a headstone will be dependent upon the size, material used, lettering, artwork, inlays, customisation and accessories included – such as flower pots or memorial lights.
Be aware of additional costs such as cemetry fees, delivery costs and installation. Delivery fees are often included in the price of memorials purchased from online retailers.
Memorial Products – Terminology
A headstone is a memorial stone stone set at the head of a grave. It is engraved to commemorate the life of the deceased. Headstones can mark single or twin graves. Alternative names are gravestone or tombstone.
A ledger is a flat slab of stone, laid horizontally over a grave.
A memorial plaque is a flate inscribed marker plate, usually made from stone or metal. It is fixed to a flat surface such as a wall and used to commemorate the life of a person or a specific event. Alternative name is tablet.
A full monument is best described as ‚bed’. It is available in single and double sizes and comprises a headstone as the bedhead, the base under the headstone would be the pillow, the ledger panel would be the mattress, surrounded by a curb area.
Slopper or Desk
This is an angled grave marker which is made from granite or cement. Granite sloppers can be engraved or have a plaque attached.
An urn is used to hold the cremation ashes of the deceased. These have traditionally consisted of basic boxes or jars. Now urns come in a wide range of styles and designs and are available online. Many can be personlised both in design and inscription.
Customisation of Memorial Design
Technological advancement in the memorial industry has allowed for much greater customer choice.
Unique headstones can now be designed by the individual and manufactured to the highest standard.
Forevershining has worked with customers to design unusual, original and contempory memorial designs.
These have included the following:
- motorcycle headstones,
- car headstones,
- teddy bear headstones,
- horse headstones,
- heart headstones,
- angel headstones.
Innovation in the Memorialisation Industry.
Materials now available for use in memorialisation include stainless steel, glass, vitreous enamel and the use of ceramic and vitreous enamel inlays in plaques and headstones.
Laser etching of headstones is becoming the leading method of headstone engraving, taking over from traditionally engraved.
Laser technology demands the use of only the highest quality, purest granite. The process provides customers with the option of highly detailed, photographic quality images.
Online design systems range widely from simply allowing customers to choose from a catalogue of images to enabling customers to fully design their own personlised memorial from the comfort of their own home. There are many benefits to these advancements in the memorialisation industry. Remote communities now have freedom of design and purchase of memorials; a vast range of products is available to all; clients are free to add their own input into the design for their loved one; many sites automatically price up the product and shipping so that no hidden costs catch customers unawares.
The addition of QR codes to memorials is the latest step in technological advancement. QR codes can be discretely laser etched into new headstones and plaques or added to memorials which are currently installed.
By using a smart phone, visitors can scan the QR code and view information stored on a website. This can include life history, photos, family heritage and comments from friends and family – all approved and managed by a family administrator.
Cultural Diversity in Memorialisation
Cultural traditions can be identified in the choice of headstone or memorial.
Many Anglo burials are memorialised by more simple, classic black granite headstones. These often incorporate religious emblems such as crosses or angels but many have non-denominational imagery such as flowers or images close to the life or personality of the deceased.
Italian style memorials are frequently full, bed style, memorials. A wider range of highly polished granite colours are chosen, from black through to green or red. White marble is also a common choice. Religious emblems such as crosses and angels occur frequently. Photo quality ceramic images are commonly attached to the headstone as are accessories such as vases and candle boxes.
Indigenous and Islander headstones often incorporate the use of colour and original design work. Native animals, totems and symbols grace the stones. Remote Aboriginal and Islander communities are now embracing new technology over the internet to design their own headstones.
Jewish headstones are very simple, often limited to name and dates in English and Hebrew. Many feature symbols and imagery of the Jewish faith such as The Star of David and the Hanukkah. Grave markers are unveiled after the Kaddish period of mourning is over but no later than one year after death.
Asian headstones often use images to reflect cultural heritage. Dragons, bamboo and other native Asian flora are frequently protrayed. The use of red granite is common place. Memorials often incorporate text in both English and Asian languages.
Muslim headstones are of simple, classic design and tend not to be overly elborate. Photos can be incorporated into the design and laser etched or attached as ceramic inlays. Commemorate details of the life of the deceased may be included. Text is often Islamic and English and is frequently enhanced with coloured or gold paint.