How to personalize your memorial
The perfect way to elegantly or creatively personalize memorialS (be it a grave marker, monument or other type) is with stone engraving. Stone engraving, which is most commonly applied to headstones and other grave markers, may be one of the most ancient forms of art. Stones from nearly 80000 years ago have been found engraved with intricate etchings. For many centuries, the best method of engraving was to use a hammer and chisel. Advances in technology have resulted in stone engraving that's faster, cleaner and cheaper than ever before.
Today, sandblasting is the most common technique for stone engraving. Sandblasting involves the use of compressed air and sand to create a pressurized stream that 'blasts' the rock away. It's most often done electronically; the design is put into a computer and a machine automatically traces the lines onto the stone. This cuts down greatly on production time while at the same time offering a very clean engraving. Other technology that helps speed up today's stone engraving processes includes rubber or vinyl stencils and templates, as well as scanning and drawing software that can make design easier.
One of the benefits of stone engraving for the consumer is that you can create a much more personalized engraving. One possibility is to buy your own stone and have it custom engraved. This may save you money, as some cemeteries will sell grave markers with their own markup. It may also help you customize your memorial, as you'll be the one selecting the color, size and shape.
You can also buy pre-made memorials or grave markers and have them engraved. While you'll be more limited in your choices when it comes to size and shape, you'll still be able to have a personalized message engraved on the marker.
As many funeral industry insiders warn, most cemeteries place restrictions on memorials that have been purchased (or even engraved) elsewhere. However, anti-competitive rules are slowly being overturned, one state at a time. Check with your local cemetery before you buy a plot, to find out their policy concerning installation of memorials purchased elsewhere. If you want to have a custom engraving, or you simply want the choice to shop around, you'll have to look for a cemetery that allows outside memorials.
An engraved stone can cost on average $700 to $1000. To lower this price a little, try shopping around for your own unembellished stone, then hiring someone to provide you with an engraving.