Choosing a Memorial
When selecting a memorial for yourself or a loved one, there are many factors to consider.
Quality is the single most important factor when choosing a company to produce a memorial. There is no reason to compromise quality to save a few dollars. That having been said, you don't have to spend a great deal more money to get quality workmanship and quality granite. Make sure the stone and the foundation upon which it is placed are guaranteed. The monument you purchase is intended to do more than mark a grave. The monument is a lasting testament to a life that is to be remembered for generations to come. When you consider the purpose of the stone and the time for which it should serve that purpose, it is easy to see that cutting corners is not an option.
Another consideration in choosing a monument is selecting a style that best reflects the life that your loved one has lived. The monument should serve as a history lesson to those who see it. If you are memorializing someone who lived a simple life, a simple design would seem more appropriate than a very detailed carving with unusual letter styles, for example. People usually like to reflect characteristics of the person such as faith, hobbies, career, and so on. Some families make special effort to see that the monument they purchase is similar to other monuments in the cemetery, while some see to it that the memorial for a certain loved one stands apart from the others.
Naturally, the kind of stone you choose to have the memorial carved from is a major consideration. The most commonly used granite in the Southeast is Georgia Gray granite. Georgia Gray granite is the least expensive granite that is used for memorials. Expect anywhere from 50-100% markup for other colors of stone--and there are lots of them. See our Types of Stone page for samples. We recommend granite over any other material for a memorial. Granite has proven its merit over time and will endure a great deal longer than any bronze or marble. If you have ever seen a marble memorial from the early part of the 20th century, you probably noticed how difficult it is to read smaller letters on the marker. This is usually not a problem in workmanship, but instead in the material. Generally speaking, marble markers more than 75 years old show significant deterioration. Granite is a much harder material than marble and WILL NOT show any significant deterioration for several hundred years!
Price is a determining factor in most of our decisions no matter what they may concern. While it is imperative that you purchase a memorial with which you'll be satisfied today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now, it is also important to make a good financial decision. Losing a loved one is perhaps the most difficult part of life; don't compound that loss by making an emotional decision and paying too much for a memorial. YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEND A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY TO BUY A NICE MEMORIAL. A very nice single upright monument can be bought for less than $500, while a small double can be bought for around $900 dollars. One can purchase a larger monument polished all over for around $1400. By the same turn, one should never cut corners. Carefully consider how much you have to spend, then decide on a monument that is in your price range.
Get what you want
As stated earlier, be sure that the purchase you make is a purchase that you will be satisfied with today, tomorrow, and from now on. Once a monument is produced, there is no trade-in value. Be sure all lettering (names, dates, verse) is correct. (You've heard the "carved in stone" expression.) This is not a decision to rush into or to make without properly educating yourself (See our Monument 101.) Never let a salesperson tell you what you should get. It is our job to provide information, not steer you in one direction or another.
The most common misconception about a pre-need monument purchase...
The single most common misconception about buying a pre-need monument concerns the carving of a date or dates after the monument has been produced. Say, for example, your parents purchased a monument while both were still living. Since that time, one of them has passed away. At that point, the date of death for that parent needs to be carved into the monument. Many people expect that this service is included in the original cost of the memorial. Be advised, however that IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO PROMISE TO CARVE AND/OR INCLUDE THE COST OF CARVING A "FUTURE" DEATH DATE IN THE COST OF A MONUMENT. The only way to include such cost is to collect the amount for carving the death date separately and place that money in a trust account to be renewed with the IRS every year until the time comes to carve the date. We are not familiar with any monument company that does this. We have heard, however, of companies that have promised to carve death dates in order to convince a family to purchase a monument from them. The only word for this process is FRAUD. Beware of any salesperson that promises such a thing without setting up a trust in which to hold the money. The law is intended to protect the customer from a company that would take money for carving a future death date and then go out of business, leaving a family with the burden of securing this service twice. As every contract signed in our office reads, "FUTURE DEATH DATES NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE."