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 on a purchase that should last for literally hundreds of years. That having been said, you shouldn'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. 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. 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.
There are any number of ways to add special touches and/or decorations to a monument. More and more we serve customers looking to have a photo attached to a memorial. The most popular method of adding a portrait to a monument is with porcelain. Technological advances in digital imaging have brought on a process by which we can, in essence, scan a photo and "print" it into an enduring enamel coated tile. The photograph is fired in a kiln and, when complete, is an exact match to the original picture. These pictures are guaranteed to never fade or deteriorate in any way. Understand, however, that we never guarantee that anything attached to a monument will stay attached forever. To our knowledge, none of the photos we have attached to a monument have ever actually fallen off. Even so, we do not guarantee that it will not happen.
Granite, marble, and metallic vases have been used for quite some time. They continue to grow in popularity as families tire of the frustrations of having flowers placed at graves be blown away after only a few days of having placed them. Vases are also a safe alternative to so called "saddle" flower arrangements which often leave rust stains that cannot be cleaned. We recommend granite vases over marble due to the unchanging appearance that granite maintains. Marble vases tend to lose the glossy finish applied to them and, in time, will deteriorate. Metallic vases (bronze or aluminum in most cases) are similar to granite in durability. The advantage to these vases is that there is usually a way to turn the vase over and place it below ground level when it contains no flowers. This is a huge help to those responsible for the upkeep of your cemetery. Metallic vases are generally more expensive, however than both marble and granite vases.
Foot stones and Corner posts
While the popularity of foot stones and corner posts has decreased over time, our company still produces quite of few of these stones. Foot stones and corner posts are relatively inexpensive ways to temporarily mark graves without actually purchasing a headstone. Foot stones are also commonly used in addition to a monument as a place to show nicknames, family relationships, and so forth. Be advised, however, that such small stones are often covered by grass and soil and are difficult to maintain.
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 section.) 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. This is a fraudulent practice. 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."