With genealogy such a popular hobby, more people are visiting cemeteries looking for their ancestors' burial sites. Sadly, many are unable to locate these graves because they have no monument or marker. Even worse is locating the grave, then not being able to read the words or dates on the memorial. Vital personal information is often recorded on these stones.
As the daughter of a stonecutter, I learned about monuments from my father. One very important fact I learned is why the writing on some memorials seems to last forever, while others become illegible.
Do Your Homework
Before you make a purchase, it is important that you know what to look for before making such a personal decision. Granite comes from all over the world. A locally quarried granite is not necessarily the cheapest or the best. There is nothing more durable than granite to record a permanent record of your life. We have probably all seen memorials from past generations that have faded, broken or are too weather-beaten to read. These stories have been lost forever. Generally, these were constructed from less durable material, or the workmanship was not good enough to stand the test of time.
Consider Your Options
Selecting a memorial is a very personal decision. There are many factors to consider. Do you prefer a marker or a monument? Which granite do you prefer? How much money do you want to spend? The color of granite depends on the proportions and varieties of minerals it contains. The prevailing color is gray, but there are several other colors available. As long as the granite is monumental grade, color does not reflect the quality. Your color choice is simply a matter of personal taste.
Quality is Key
Whether you choose a small marker or a large monument, the most important thing is workmanship. If the quality of the work is inferior, it will not matter how large or expensive the stone. Before making a purchase, shop around. Visit several dealers and inspect their work. Each one is different. Look at the quality of work of the stonecutter. Are the letters deeply carved or are they shallow? Did they use paint? Paint might be attractive now, but it will wear off in time. Inspect the flowers on work that is finished; Are they shaped, like a natural flower, or are they flat? A skilled stonecutter can shape-carve flowers for a realistic appearance. In recent years, many companies have chosen to use lasers to do the work. Although this can make a beautiful memorial now, it is not deep enough to last for generations.
Various Memorial Styles
The style of the memorial is also important. If you choose a marker, you must decide between a flat (flush with the ground) or raised marker. A flat marker has disadvantages that should be seriously considered. The grass around must be manicured or it can grow over the edges and eventually cover the marker completely. These markers often look dirty and can be difficult to read. They are often damaged by cemetery lawnmowers, as the mowers go over the top of the stones. The raised marker is raised in back and tapered to the front. It is set on a flat base of granite and wiII remain above ground. Upright monuments can be designed almost any way imaginable. All uprights are placed on a base.
Are you considering a vase for floral decorations? These are a lovely addition, but think ahead. Are you certain someone will take care of this in the years to come? An empty vase makes a memorial look neglected.
Granite and Finishing Options
Most cemeteries require the base to sit on a cement foundation that goes deep into the ground. The foundation gives the monument stability and keeps it from tilting. The finish on the stone figures greatly in the price. Generally, the more areas that are polished, the higher the cost. Most monuments today are polished. That means the surface has a hard glossy finish, resembling glass. It is achieved by grinding down the rough granite and finishing with a buffing stage. Polishing is a personal preference. It makes no difference in the durability or quality of the granite. Any part of a granite monument that is rough in appearance has been shaped by a stonecutter and made rough deliberately. The rough sides of bases are practical, as they are not easily damaged. A base with polished sides could be chipped or scratched by mowing equipment.
Your choices for decorating are limitless. Traditional designs include hearts, flowers, wedding rings, the Bible and countless others far too numerous to mention. You may choose to design your own. Talk to your dealer about your ideas. Hobbies are a popular choice, such as sailing, golf, racing or social clubs. Pictures can also be added to the stone. Poetry or personal information may be added as a way to create uniqueness. The options are as varied as each individual.
Guidelines for Purchasing a Memorial
1. Before any purchase, contact the cemetery where the memorial will be located. Ask about any restrictions they might have. For example, if you purchase a lot in a "marker only" section, an upright monument would be prohibited.
2. Visit more than one dealer. Compare their finished products. Check the depth of the carving and look for shape-carving.
3. Do not allow paint to be used on your memorial. It will not stand up to years of weather effects.
4. If possible, avoid making a purchase immediately after a death. Emotions cloud judgment. Take time to think clearly and be certain you are getting what you really want.
5. Ask about the different grades of granite. A soft granite will hold moisture and could leave dark spots on
6. Always buy from a reputable dealer. Ask for recommendations from friends, relatives and neighbors.
Purchasing your memorial in advance is strongly recommended. This allows you to make your own decisions and be certain that you will have what you want. Buying in advance removes the burden from the surviving family members. Making a decision in haste can lead to disappointment later.
A memorial is a permanent record of life and you should feel certain it will be there for the generations to come. With these basic guidelines, you will be prepared to make a well-informed purchase.