You have options when purchasing a memorial or headstone—from a memorial provider, to funeral home, cemetery or online, to name a few. But keep in mind, not all options offer the same customer service experience, personalization or quality. And when it comes to honoring and remembering your loved one, families should be able to trust the memorial provider that is creating this lasting tribute.
In this article we explain how who you choose can impact headstone costs, product quality and your family’s experience.
Purchasing a Memorial
With any purchase, the more businesses involved in the supply chain, the more cost is passed on to the customer. Funeral homes and cemeteries will offer to coordinate the memorial purchase for you, but they are simply acting as the middleman. They don’t design, create or manufacture headstones. Instead, they will contract the work to a memorial provider.
Alternatively, by going directly to a memorial provider yourself, you are removing an additional step in the process. You are also opening up your options to all of the monument provider’s offerings, not just what the funeral home or cemetery can offer—which is often a limited knowledge and selection.
Quality and Craftsmanship
Commercial grade granite is widely used by third-party sellers because it’s cheaper, but it’s also prone to chipping, degradation and discoloration over time. Artisans will have more difficulty engraving or etching low-grade granite, especially for fine details. The low density, flaws and inconsistencies in poor granite diminishes the material’s sharpness and pristine appearance when it’s cut or polished.
Reputable memorial providers only use high-grade granite, which offers deeper characters and designs. These personal aspects are what set the memorial apart and make it unique to your loved one’s life. The best craftspeople can make your vision into art that is beautiful and built to last, all while adhering to your budget.
While these design differences may come at a cost, the difference you experience from day one is significant.
Top memorial providers do all of their work in-house, which reduces costs, production times and third-party intermediaries. This means your headstone stays with the company, from initial concept to design to cemetery setting.
A well-known, trusted memorial company with a history of satisfied customers and high-quality craftsmanship may price their product slightly higher than a newcomer to the industry. What you are paying for is a company’s reliable quality and consistency. But don’t just take their word for it—visit their website, find a portfolio of their past work and read reviews and testimonials. If these aren’t readily available, look elsewhere.
Know the Risks of Buying a Memorial Online
When choosing a memorial provider, it’s also critical to assess the risks involved in your purchase—especially if you’re considering an online memorial provider. A memorial should be a lasting tribute to your loved one, created by a company you can trust. Here are a few risks to be aware of with online memorial retailers:
- Online retailers don’t know local cemeteries’ rules and regulations. Local memorial providers have relationships with nearby cemeteries, understanding the specific requirements (sizes, shapes, etc.) for all headstones in the cemetery, which can vary from plot to plot. Since personalized headstones cannot be returned, you take a gamble when ordering online.
- Online retailers don’t advocate for their customers. When faced with a poor experience with a cemetery or an unlawful regulation, reputable memorial providers understand their customers' rights, and will work to make sure your memorial becomes a reality.
- Online retailers can’t place your stone in a cemetery. Many cemeteries will not accept memorials from online providers. Without proof of insurance by a local monument retailer, cemeteries will refuse to accept and place a stone. Local memorial providers will act as a concierge to ensure all cemetery requirements are met, documents are signed, and the setting is approved.
- Memorial quality can’t be ensured when ordering online. Some online retailers offer lower prices because they use lower grades of granite or because the stone sizes and finishes are smaller than local cemeteries may require. With no way to see or feel what you are getting, you are taking a risk.
Learn More About Headstone Costs
Want to better understand how much your memorial or headstone might cost? Use our Interactive Cost Guide to explore the various costs associated with memorials.