The essence and meaning of life are juxtaposed by the bitter irony of its nature – that it is fragile and temporary. When people die, the individuals whose lives they have touched could not help but create meaning out of their transient being. Hence, all memorials continue to serve its purpose for the past 5,000 years.
Curiously, there are many theories regarding how tombstones as we know it was conceived and practiced. However, it is always an accepted fact that religion has elevated the purpose of tombstones out of a simple but profound idea of acknowledging the identity of the departed.
The National Funeral Directors Association has projected as early as 2015 that cremations will replace burials as the standard memorial service in the next few decades. But even in the face of the major cultural overhaul, tombstones will continue to ‘engrave’ the person’s legacy after death.
General Varieties & Price Ranges
So, how much does a headstone cost? There are several factors to consider when it comes to how much a single gravestone is charged. These modifiers include size, shape, material, and style.
When it comes to the size, the usual dimensions for length and width determining the seller’s asking price is around 20×10 – with a thickness that provides sufficient visibility from its base terrain. A standard material for a gravestone is either granite or marble, with either one getting a markup cost when overlaid with bronze.
Due to their diminutive dimensions, infant and pet gravestones only cost around half the price of a standard headstone. The most obvious price range affected by shape modifier is perceived among more erect styles, particularly the monuments. This is an index of headstone prices based on the different styles:
- Flat markers: $250 to $756
- Bevel markers: $600 to $1,040
- Slant markers: $849 to $1,450
- Bronze markers: $1,140 to $2,650
- Monument markers: $1,200 to $4,218
Cemetery Rules and Other Inclusions
Consumers should understand that headstone prices alone only constitute a small part of what is needed to know about putting grave markers. One should take note of these following factors and options included in the budget:
Installation & On-site Engraving Cost
The cost to install a gravestone is a relatively contentious discussion because it usually reflects some of the crucial cemetery regulations. It is important to understand that not all cemeteries accept gravestones bought from sources outside their affiliated business circles. Prohibition of other products in their property is one thing, but setting rules that cause unfair advantage over private retailers is another – one that is particularly subject to violations of Anti-Trust Law by the Federal Trade Commission).
Granted, consumers should be wary of cemeteries who charge ‘undisclosed’ exorbitant rates to set up these grave markers in their property. Installation fee starts as low as $40 up to $1,000. There are also cemeteries that allow tombstones to be engraved on-site, whether or not it is a unit bought within its immediate business network. US Funerals Online estimates the on-site engraving costs at an average of $135 to $150.
Bearing in mind that either a cemetery accepts outsider grave markers or both parties have agreed to the proposed installation fee, the transportation of a purchased unit to the graveyard is another matter entirely. Shipping cost is determined by the following modifiers: dimensions, weight, packaging, travel distance, as well as the mode of packaging.
Here are the estimated shipping costs for each national service provider for a headstone weighing 1000 lbs to be transported from Los Angeles to California:
- Dependable Highway Express: $353.01
- RL Carriers: $376.37
- FedEx Freight: $454.69
- XPO Logistics: $780.65
- UPS Freight: $846.11
Different Types of Add-Ons
Another key factor that could affect tombstone cost is the add-ons. Since memorials are valued for their sentimental purpose, bereaved customers would naturally put on a lot of time and effort in making an impression in terms of keeping the legacy of their departed loved ones. But how much does a headstone cost if consumers include creative add-ons? These are the following features and their associated costs:
Built-in Vase: $100 to $235
Consumers may opt to add built-in vases that easily go along with the selected type of tombstone. Apart from simply allowing visitors to put flowers at the grave, built-in vases can neither be overturned, stolen, or shattered the way glass vases do. Built-in vases can be carved out of granite, marble or bronze – usually out of the same material as the chosen monument.
Bas Relief: $2,100 to $2,700
Oftentimes cast in bronze, bas reliefs replicate a protruding semi-3D image of the deceased person on the flat plaque alongside the name and epitaph. These additions are commonly found among university memorials and museums extolling the legacy of an accomplished individual. The average cost may multiply more than twofold if the bas relief also includes the entire inscription.
3D Images: from $45 or $125
Modern printing technology has allowed carving three-dimensional pictures on crystal glasses. Similar to translucent trophies, the departed’s memorial photo can be engraved on a slab of crystal glass and erected along with the monument.
Statues: $4,000 to $30,000
Of all the artistic additions one may include, statues still contribute to the highest possible tombstone cost. Local providers usually feature religious effigies like angels, a Celtic cross or the miniature sculpture of Jesus Christ. Statues are a common decor for family estate graveyards, particularly at the grotto or backyard. For a much higher cost, it is possible to request carving a life-like statue out of the same gravestone material depicting the deceased character – especially if the deceased has attained heroic posthumous stature (e.g. Hachiko the Dog).
First published as a prototype American invention in 2006, the idea of a video-enhanced grave marker is practically fusing a motion picture screen/monitor onto a tombstone – operated in the same manner as a standard remote-controlled television. Despite the relative difficulty of streamlining it in the market, the application of the basic design still takes root globally.
Interactive Tombstones: $75 to $99
The most advanced and convenient technology developed in line with memorials is the interactive tombstone. A QR code is engraved into the tombstone that visitors can scan with their mobile devices. The QR code grants access to the departed’s interactive profile which, like a social media account, contains all the computer-navigable information preserving his/her legacy (e.g. old photos, documented works, videos, et al).