Memorial Cost Guide Cover Photo_Flowers - lores

Your Memorial Cost Guide: How to Understand the Costs and Recognize Value

The loss of a loved one places a tremendous burden on surviving friends and family. On top of that emotional distress, funeral and monument prices are rising. In 2023, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) reported that the average cost of a funeral, including viewing and burial, was $8,300—a 5.8% increase in just two years. 

An often-overlooked aspect of funeral and burial arrangements is the cost of cemetery monuments. Most families who choose a burial want a marker that uniquely and appropriately honors their loved one and satisfies their wishes. Even those who choose cremation or another alternative desire a place and symbol to use for memorialization. 

While researching headstone and monument costs, you will find that the price can vary dramatically. This is due to the number of factors involved in planning a memorial. 

The purpose of this guide is to provide the knowledge necessary to help you: 


  • Set realistic expectations for the cost of cemetery monuments, whether you're planning in advance for yourself or a family member, or dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. 
  • Improve your understanding of what affects a headstone's cost, appearance and quality, so that you can have informed conversations with memorial providers. 
  • Explore options that align with your budget, enabling you to honor your loved one's memory in a meaningful and respectful manner. 

To view this guide as a PDF or to print it for later viewing, click here.


In This Guide:



How Much Does a Monument Cost? 

A monument stands as a permanent tribute to a departed soul, capturing their memory in something tangible. Unlike most commercial products you’ll purchase, grave markers are not mass-produced—nor should they be. Because of this, the customization of memorials directly impacts their cost. Key factors influencing the cost of cemetery monuments include: 



Due to the unique nature of headstones, each customized, personalized feature influences the price.

Download this guide for later viewing here. 

Cost Factor #1: What Is the Memorial's Size and Shape

Cemetery monument prices are generally related to:


  • The amount of granite used.
  • How intricate the shape is that must be formed.

On the lower cost end is a flush, lawn-level grave marker, and an upright memorial is on the high end. 

Later in this guide, you will see how the cost of each headstone also depends on the material’s quality, design details and more. As a baseline, here are general price ranges for each memorial type. 


Starting Prices for Individual Headstones

Starting Prices for Headstones Graph_2024

Note: Each cemetery will have rules and regulations on the type, size and material of permitted memorials. 

Lawn-Level Memorial

Considered a “basic stone,” lawn-level memorials sit flush with the ground and are typically a rectangular or square shape.


  • Individual: $699 - $2,499
  • Companion: $1,199 - $2,500

Kovach - Flush Memorial-2

Bronze Memorial

Often mounted on a granite base, bronze memorials sit flush with or are slightly raised off the ground. As the price range comparison chart showcases, bronze memorials have an especially wide variance in price because bronze can be used on a flush, bevel, slant or even an upright memorial. 


  • Individual: $1,225 and up 
  • Companion: $2,210 and up
    Noe - Bronze Memorial

Bevel Memorial

Affectionately called a “pillow,” bevel memorials rise a few inches above the ground and have a slight sloping shape.


  • Individual: $999 - $2,999
  • Companion: $1,699 - $4,999

Zajac - Bevel Memorial-min

Slant Memorial

Slant memorials are cut at an angle to allow inscriptions to be seen from a distance. 


  • Individual: $1,299 - $3,999
  • Companion: $1,799 - $12,999

Thomas - Slant Memorial - Holy Cross Cemetery

Upright Monument

These large memorials are built to be admired from afar. Most commonly seen as rectangles or with rounded edges, upright memorials may also be unique shapes or accompanied by a statue. 


  • Single Monument: $2,199 and Up
  • Companion Monument: $2,299 and Up
  • Family Monuments: $3,999 and Up

Upright - Migielicz

Related Resource: 7 Questions To Ask a Memorial Provider To Ensure You Get Your Money’s Worth 

Other Factors

Even within one memorial type, the price variance can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The differences relate to factors of the monument provider, the material used and the family’s wishes. We explore these factors throughout the guide.


Related Resource:

Memorial Cost Question Checklist CTA

Download this guide for later viewing here. 

Cost Factor #2: What Material Is the Memorial?

The two primary material options for headstones are granite and bronze. Granite, a natural rock formed through geological processes over thousands or millions of years, offers a spectrum of colors including grays, blacks, reds, blues and browns. It is not artificially produced by humans or machines but rather results from the cooling of molten rock. 

Key factors to consider when purchasing a granite memorial include its grade, color and variety. 

Granite Grade

As a lasting symbol of someone’s life, the fundamental expectation of granite is that it is durable. To help guarantee you a memorial that will endure for generations, the entire monument industry converted from softer rocks, like marble and slate, to granite, which does not naturally deteriorate even 1/1000th of an inch in a century. 

Despite its natural strength, not all granite provides the same reliability. 

Grade is the term used to signify the quality of a piece of granite. Granite quality may not be easily visible to the untrained eye, but grade reflects a piece of granite’s: 


  • Durability
  • Density
  • Structural integrity
  • Consistency
  • Suitability for cutting, crafting and finishing


Low commercial grade granite is prone to chipping, degradation and discoloration over time. Craftspeople will have difficulty engraving or etching low-grade granite, especially for fine details. The low density, flaws and inconsistencies in poor granite diminish the material’s sharpness and pristine appearance when cut or polished. 

Ask your memorial provider about their granite grade or quality, or ask if they have a warranty. Providers that offer a warranty on their headstones back up their words with a commitment to you and confidence in their granite. 

Granite Color and Variety

Granite is a combination of various minerals and rocks, which explains the different colors, textures and patterns available.  

More readily available colors, such as traditional grays seen in most cemeteries, are likely priced lower. Blue pearl or aurora red, however, are examples of more exquisite and rare granites that are priced higher due to their limited supply. Nearly any granite color you can imagine is available, it just depends on a memorial provider’s inventory, your timeline and, of course, your budget. 


Examples of Available Granite Colors and Varieties

MM_Granite Color Grid - 2023 (with Tan Brown)

The price for granite varieties is not stagnant and can alter if an influx of a certain granite variety is introduced to the market. 

Want to browse our selection of granite colors? Set up an appointment to see your options in person.  


The other material option for consideration is bronze. If selected, bronze is typically mounted on a granite or cement base, in accordance with cemetery rules and regulations. Bronze, like granite, is meant to last thousands of years with almost no degradation. Though bronze is not susceptible to rust, regular upkeep is recommended to prevent corrosion from altering its color. 

On a lawn-level, slant or upright monument, the bronze is placed and priced based on the number of characters or the intricacy of the design. Like granite, bronze cemetery monument prices can be broad, ranging from around a thousand dollars for a simple lawn-level headstone to tens of thousands of dollars for large and intricate bronze statues. 

Johnson - Bronze Memorial

Because bronze is a metal, its price fluctuates with supply and demand. For example, something could cost $1,000 in 2020 and $3,000 in 2030, depending on the cost of the particular metal. 

If you choose to work with a memorial manufacturer, they will have a great understanding of bronze monument prices at a given time. If working through a funeral home, cemetery or other third party, they will likely not have the same level of knowledge about the material’s source. 

>>> Related Resource: Why Working With a Memorial Provider Is Cheaper Than a Cemetery 

Set Up an Appointment To See Our Materials


Cost Factor #3: What Do You Want on the Memorial?

Once the memorial’s size, shape and material are selected, the canvas is in place. The final decisions—and perhaps those most intimately personal—are the words and images to be drawn in stone. 

Though they do not impact the monument price as much as the size, shape and type, different design options have varying costs. 

To view this guide as a PDF or to access a printable version for later viewing, click here.


Sandblasting is the standard method used for most lettering and many designs seen on memorials. 

fusco sandblasted letters slant headstone memorial

The characters and designs on this memorial were sandblasted.

Because sandblasting is the method most reputable memorial providers use for granite memorials, all standard headstone lettering should be included for the same cost, regardless of the number of characters. 

Standard lettering and designs include: 

  • First and last name in available fonts
  • Dates in available fonts
  • Traditional designs, such as a cross, rings, hearts, anchors, flowers, etc.
  • Short inscription, such as “in loving memory”

Headstone paint for the lettering and designs is also included if the color is commonly used or already in stock. 


Two etching methods can be employed in place of, or supplementary to, sandblasted designs. After sandblasting is complete, etching can add personalized designs, photos or landscape art to the memorial. 

Laser etching vs hand etching

Hand Etching

Hand etching is a unique and difficult skill that adds incredible character and customization to a memorial. Talented hand etchers can take a scenic picture or multiple images of a person and create a one-of-a-kind image. 

Howard - Upright Monument - Holy Cross Cemetery

The portrait on the memorial above, for example, may have been created from three separate photos. Not only is hand etching an impressive precision skill, it is a true art that requires creativity and depth that a machine cannot yet create on its own. 

Laser Etching

Laser etching is a less expensive alternative to hand etching, and is especially effective if a family wants an image replicated onto stone. Although it does not offer the artistic difference of hand etching or depth of sandblasting, laser etching leads to lower monument prices because it is burned on the surface.

Lillard - Lawn Level Memorials - Cleveland Memorial Gardens

Pricing: Hand Etching vs. Laser Etching

Pricing and quality may vary by provider. But, to use as an example, below is pricing for hand and laser etchings at Milano Monuments. Prices may increase depending on the size or detail required to craft the etching.


Single portrait:

  • 8-inch laser etching starts at $595
  • 8-inch hand etching starts at $1,095


Double portrait:

  • 8-inch laser etching starts at $1,150
  • 8-inch hand etching starts at $2,190


For other images, such as scenery, pets and symbols, pricing depends on the picture’s complexity. 

Wittenauer - Upright Monument

Milano Monuments is thankful to have an extremely talented hand etcher, Peter Viyuk, who can personalize your photograph. Contact us to meet Peter and discuss a possible hand etching. 

Other Memorial Design Options

There are a few other offerings from memorial providers that create especially distinct memorials and will affect the final monument cost. 

Sculptures & Carving

Few features set a headstone apart like a unique sculpture or carving. A carving, such as the butterflies in this picture, can be personalized for the family or individual. 

Brown - BUTTERFLY MONUMENTIf your cemetery allows, another option is to have a bronze or granite sculpture created, and placed on or near the memorial. The memorial pictured here features a bronze angel sculpture accenting a granite headstone. 

Brumley Family - Statue

Pricing for sculptures and carvings depends on a number of factors, including the:


  • Material (bronze or the type of granite)
  • Sculpture or carving size
  • Desired design intricacy and detail

Ceramic Photos

Ceramic or porcelain photos are typically used as an alternative to hand or laser etching to put an individual or family portrait on a memorial.

Hagmann - Upright Monument - Holy Cross Akron

If considering a ceramic or porcelain photo, here’s what to know:

  • Available in standard sizes 2.25 in. to 10 in., but can go bigger if desired
  • Material is typically ceramic, but porcelain is also an option
  • Typical shapes include oval, square, rectangle or heart
  • White with gray and black is the least expensive, but other colors are available
  • Cost starts at $265 and goes up depending on size and finish
  • Ceramic and porcelain manufacturers offer their own warranty in the unlikely event that one is damaged



Sometimes the best complement to a specialized memorial is something that can be changed over time. By adding one or multiple vases to a headstone, fresh and colorful flowers can be placed for special occasions. 

Cruz - Upright Monument - Monument

Vases can be unique, just like the memorials with which they are combined. These come in several shapes, sizes and materials, and can be in the ground or attached to the memorial’s base or top. Materials include:

  • Granite
  • Bronze
  • Hepburn
  • Other colored metals

Quality granite vases may cost $250 and up depending on the material, shape, size and whether it is joined with the memorial or placed in the ground. Note: Be sure to check with your memorial provider or chosen cemetery to confirm that vases are permitted.  

Other Headstone Accents 

A number of other unique accents can be added to your loved one’s headstone, including:  

  • Aluminum accents
  • Bronze accents
  • Stained glass
  • 24K gold lettering  

Headstone Accents Collage

During the headstone design process, your memorial provider will be able to explain how each may impact your final monument cost.  

Ready to speak to a memorial provider? Reach out to Milano Monuments to schedule your in-person or virtual appointment today. 

Download this guide for later viewing here. 

Cost Factor #4: Who Is the Provider?

Once all other factors have been considered, it’s worth understanding how the memorial provider can affect your monument price.

Craftsmanship Quality

When all else is equal between the granite quality, shape, size and design details, what difference remains? Craftsmanship. 

The most personal aspects of a headstone are the words and design elements inscribed on the piece of granite. The best craftspeople in the world make your vision into art that is beautiful to look at and built to last. 

Dave Focht carving-1-1

For instance, Milano Monuments offers deeper characters and designs. These will retain their color and provide more contrast to bystanders. 

Hand etching also creates a more personalized and memorable piece than machines or average designers can provide. 

Peter hand etching - still from video

While these design differences may come at a cost, the difference you experience from day one through multiple generations is significant. 

Headstone Provider Quality and Reputation 

The amount of granite, degree of personalization and shape uniqueness all have a calculable value associated with them. What is hard to identify without viewing the final product is reputation. 

With reputation comes assurance. A well-known, trusted provider with a history of satisfied families and high-quality craftsmanship may price their product slightly higher than a newcomer to the industry. 

Not only is there reputation in a name, but in a provider’s reliable quality and consistency. To gauge a provider’s reputation, visit their website, find a portfolio of past work and ask about family testimonials. If these aren’t readily available, it may be a red flag. 

Third Party Involvement or Direct From the Memorial Provider

You want to choose a memorial provider that offers the best value and won’t increase monument prices just to make more money. A reputable memorial provider will respect your wishes and partner with you to create the most personalized, beautiful headstone possible, in your budget. 

Funeral homes and cemeteries often help coordinate the memorial and burial plot purchase. And, out of convenience, many families may choose to take this offer. 

However, going directly to a memorial provider removes an additional step in the process. It also opens up all of the monument provider’s offerings, not just what the funeral home or cemetery can offer. Direct communication with a memorial provider and its designers also helps ensure all of your design and inscription wishes come to fruition. 

Related Resource: Your Questions About Buying a Memorial from a Cemetery, Answered 

4 Reasons To Avoid Online Memorial Retailers  

In 2018, ecommerce sales across all products accounted for just 9.5% of all retail sales. That figure jumped to 16.4% by 2023. 

This growing trend has started to infiltrate the headstone business—but should it? 

Purchasing memorials online may be easy and fast, but if you’re looking for the best deal, an online retailer will likely give you more headaches than benefits. Why? 

  1. Each cemetery has its own rules and regulations. If a memorial is ordered and doesn’t meet the cemetery’s dimensional and style requirements, it can be denied and unable to be placed on the grave. Local memorial providers have relationships with nearby cemeteries, understanding the specific requirements for all headstones in the cemetery, which can even vary plot to plot.
  2. Online retailers do not 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 headstone becomes a reality.
  3. Online retailers cannot place your stone in a cemetery. Many cemeteries will not accept memorials from online providers and return it back to the sender. Without proof of insurance by a local monument retailer, cemeteries cannot 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.
  4. The headstone quality cannot 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. Also, they have no way of showcasing their work or products. Milano Monuments, for example, has an onsite showroom with examples and material samples, giving you peace of mind for this important purchase.

To view this guide as a PDF or to access a printable version for later viewing, click here.

Get Started with a Memorial Provider You Can Trust

At Milano Monuments, we work individually with each family and individual to design a headstone that is both personal and exceptional. Whether it is for yourself or a loved one, we will be transparent and helpful, and take the time to answer any questions you may have during this difficult time. 

We believe in educating families so they understand the value of this gift that will last forever in history. 

Schedule an appointment and one of our family representatives will partner with you, handle all communication with the cemetery (even for one out of the area or in a different state) and keep you updated as the headstone is created. 


New call-to-action

New call-to-action

Work With an Expert

Let us help you design an expertly crafted memorial or monument uniquely made for you.

Our Family of Brands

Milano Inspirations logo
Milano Floral-Black-Logo-iv1